The Suffolk County Health Services Department announced on October 11 that it would like to draw private wells at no cost to residents of an area of Orient generally north of Skippers Lane, south of the main road, in west of Tabor Road and east of Racketts Court.
Emerging contaminants such as PFOS and/or PFOA above the New York State drinking water standard were found in five onsite wells in the neighborhood.
The chemicals, known collectively as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), have been used in the past in a number of industrial and commercial products, including fire-fighting foam and water-repellent coatings, l oil, stains, and grease, such as food packaging, water-resistant clothing, and stain-resistant carpets, and due to their prevalence in consumer products, people can be exposed to these contaminants through air, water or soil from industrial sources and consumer products.
The New York State Department of Health established a drinking water standard of 10 parts per trillion PFAS for the public water supply in August 2020. Previously, there were no standards for these substances.
In cases where PFAS exceed drinking water standards in private wells, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will provide residents with an alternative source of drinking water, such as bottled water, treatment system or public water connection, if applicable.
According to the New York State Department of Health, drinking or cooking is the main problem for exposure to PFAS in household tap water. Bathing and showering should not be a problem even if PFAS are present in the water supply. Residents with general questions about the health effects of PFAS are encouraged 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 present, 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 Department of Health and regularly tested.
Currently, the health department will conduct public outreach activities at approximately 67 properties to sample their wells for free. The state and county will consider expanding the study 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 performed by a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation contract laboratory. The County Environmental and Public Health Laboratory also performs testing of private well samples for other contaminants including bacteria, volatile organic contaminants, pesticides, inorganic substances such as metals and other emerging contaminants. such as 1,4-dioxane.
Residents with questions about private well water in Suffolk County can contact the SCDHS Water Resources Office at 631.852.5810.
For more information on PFAS, visit the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website at: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.