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Water quality advisory issued for private well owners in Orient

Suffolk County health officials have issued a water quality advisory for private well owners in Orient, after detecting “forever chemicals” in local water supplies.

The county plans to sample private wells north of Skippers Lane, south of Main Road, west of Tabor Road and east of Racketts Court after PFOS and PFOA were detected at levels above the state drinking water standard in five on-site wells. The source of contamination has not yet been identified. Public water is regularly tested and regulated by the health department, so connected homes do not need to have their water tested.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will offer affected residents an alternative source of drinking water, such as bottled water, a treatment system or connection to public water where available. 

PFOS and PFOA are used in industrial and commercial products such as firefighting foam, food packaging, water-resistant clothing and stain-resistant carpeting. The state Department of Health set a maximum contaminant level for the chemicals in August 2020. 

The county has urged residents with private wells that have not recently been sampled in the impacted area to contact the county Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810 to have their water tested free of charge. Samples will be tested for bacteria, volatile organic contaminants, pesticides, metals and other emerging contaminants. 

Drinking or cooking is the primary exposure concern for PFAS in household tap water and bathing and showering are not expected to be a concern, according to a county press release.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed designating PFOS and PFAS as “hazardous” in August, along with plans to protect communities from health risks posed by the toxic compounds. Research has indicated that exposure to the chemicals could lead to cancer or other health problems. 

The toxins have been detected in hundreds of wells on Long Island since around 2016. 

The state Department of Health issued proposed regulations for emerging contaminants on Oct. 5 that would set new drinking water standards for four additional PFAS, joining regulations set in 2020. The proposed rules would also require testing, reporting, and public notification for 19 additional PFAS compounds. The regulations may be viewed here, where the public has until Dec. 5 to review and comment. 

Suffolk County has advised residents with general questions about health effects of PFAS to call the New York State Department of Health at 518-402-7950 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents with questions about private well water in the county may contact the Office of Water Resources at 631-852-5810.

Additional information about PFAS may be found here.