The Suffolk County Department of Health Services announced Oct. 11 that it is would like to sample private wells at no charge to residents in an area in Orient generally north of Skippers Lane, south of the Main Road, west of Tabor Road, and east of Racketts Court.
Emerging contaminants PFOS and/or PFOA above the New York State drinking water standard have been found in five on-site wells in the neighborhood.
The chemicals, collectively known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) had historically been used in a number of industrial and commercial products including firefighting foam and coatings that repel water, oil, stains and grease, such as food packaging, water-resistant clothing and stain-resistant carpeting, and because of their prevalence in consumer products, people may be exposed to these contaminants through air, water, or soil from industrial sources and from consumer products.
The New York State Department of Health established a drinking water standard of 10 parts per trillion of PFAS for public water supplies in August of 2020. Prior to that time, there was no standard for these substances.
In instances where PFAS exceed the drinking water standards in private wells, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will offer residents an alternative source of drinking water, such as bottled water, a treatment system or connection to public water where available.
Drinking or cooking is the primary exposure concern for PFAS in household tap water, according to the New York State Health Department. Bathing and showering are not expected to be a concern even if PFAS are present in the water supply. Residents with general questions about health effects of PFAS are advised to call the New York State Department of Health at 518.402.7950 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At this time, the source of PFOS and PFOA contamination in this area has not been identified, according to the county health department.
Homes connected to a public water supply do not need to have their water tested as the public water supply is regulated by the health department and routinely tested.
At this time, the health department will be doing public outreach to approximately 67 properties in order to sample their wells free of charge. The state and county will consider expanding the survey area to include additional properties after receiving the results of this study.
To set up free well testing, call the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Water Resources at 631.852.5810.
The analysis will be conducted by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation contract laboratory. The county’s Public and Environmental Health Laboratory is also conducting analysis of private well samples for other contaminants including bacteria, volatile organic contaminants, pesticides, inorganics such as metals and other emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane.
Residents who have questions about private well water in Suffolk County may contact the SCDHS Office of Water Resources at 631.852.5810.
For additional information about PFAS, visit the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.