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Source: News 12 Long Island

News 12/Newsday report: Possible carcinogen 1,4-dioxane found in LI water spurs push for stronger standards

Posted: January 10, 2017
Originally Published: January 9, 2017

HICKSVILLE - There's a push for the state to impose drinking water standards to target a possible carcinogen that was found in nearly every water district on Long Island.

Drinking water samples have shown abnormally high levels of 1,4-dioxane, a chemical found in products including detergents and baby wipes. Water testing in Hicksville turned up the highest level of 1,4-dioxane found in the entire country. And collectively, Long Island's water supply has the highest levels of the chemical in the state, levels that are considerably higher than the national average.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says health officials have not agreed on how many parts per billion that 1,4-dioxane should be considered unsafe in drinking water.

"Florida has chosen the standard of 3," Esposito says. "California has chosen the standard of 1. We're using 50."

Officials say the well in Hicksville that was found to have the extremely high levels of 1,4-dioxane has been taken out of use. And the Suffolk County Water Authority was the first water supplier in the state to build a filter that successfully removed virtually all 1,4-dioxane from the water. But that system comes at a high cost, of about $500,000 to $750,000 per system, the tab for which would have to come from ratepayers, according to the authority.

Rich Humann, of the engineering firm H2M, says that's the dilemma -- should water districts invest millions of public dollars fighting a chemical without knowing how harmful it is?

"If you're a water supplier, you're really in a difficult position," Humann says. "Without the EPA and the state Health Department coming up with a drinking water standard, how do you respond to that?"

In the meantime, residents like Rick Coffee, of Hicksville, says he has his own solution: bottled water.