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Source: Water Online

New York Senators Ask For Help With 1,4-Dioxane Contamination


Posted: February 8, 2017
Originally Published: February 7, 2017

Last month, both U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand signaled for the U.S. EPA to “prioritize and accelerate” the risk evaluation for 1,4-dioxane, a potential carcinogen found in 71 percent of Long Island water supply systems.

According to the environment news service, both senators wrote a letter to the EPA’s Acting Administrator Catherine McCabe because of the dire situation.

“As you know, exposure to 1,4-dioxane, which EPA classifies as likely to be carcinogenic by all routes of exposure, can potentially cause long-term adverse health effects, including liver and kidney damage, as well as short-term side effects, including drowsiness and irritation of the eyes and nose,” both senators wrote.

Because of the recently passed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bill, 1,4-dioxane was named by the agency “as one of the first 10 chemicals to be evaluated for potential risks to human health and the environment.”

“Long Island homeowners cannot afford an EPA rain check when it comes to investigating 1,4-dioxane and its impact on our local water,” Schumer said. “That is why I am urging the EPA to open the floodgates and commit the resources required to swiftly investigate this serious chemical and any implications it may have on our local water supplies.”

Just this past August, the EPA released a survey that showed 1,4-dioxane, a manmade chemical, has contaminated the island’s water and exceeded the national average.

1,4-dioxane emerges in the creation of personal care products such as “cosmetics, toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorants through a process known as ethoxylation, which is conducted to make these products less abrasive and increase their foaming.” The compound has been classified as a carcinogen by the EPA.

“Once down the drain, the chemical is highly mobile in soil and does not easily break down, leading to contamination of groundwater-fed water sources, also known as aquifers or artesian wells,” Harry Somma, the Long Island program coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), said. CCE is leading a fight to establish safe drinking water standards for 1,4-dioxane in New York.

In December, CCE called on New York State to create a health-based safe drinking water standard to protect consumers.
The Suffolk County Legislature sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo calling on the state’s department of health to create the standard.

According to Newsday, there is no state-approved method to remove 1,4-dioxane. The survey found levels of cancer “that would probably generate the increased risk in 71 percent of water-supply systems tested on Long Island, compared with only 7 percent of the systems nationally.”

“When it comes to Long Island drinking water, we can’t take any chances,” Schumer said, according to the news service. “That’s why I pushed through a law that requires the feds to shine a light on the potential dangers of chemicals like this one.”

President Donald Trump, however, “has indicated his intention to weaken and defund the EPA through his nominee for EPA administration, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 14 times in the recent past.”

“It’s unacceptable that while the drinking water on Long Island is contaminated with a possible carcinogen, the EPA is not acting with the urgency that the situation requires in order clean up our water supply,” Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.