Emerging Contaminants

Emerging contaminants are substances being discovered in drinking water sources throughout the country. Every five years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts out a list of a maximum of 30 unregulated contaminants, for which water providers are required to test and monitor. This action stems from the agency’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), which is a program to collect data for contaminants that are suspected to be present in drinking water and do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

1,4-dioxane and PFOA/PFOS were on a recent UCMR list which has led to detections in water sources throughout the country. 1,4-dioxane specifically has been detected in 70 percent of Long Island’s water wells, including the Plainview groundwater wells at levels ranging from 0.2 to 3.8 parts per billion (ppb). 1,4-dioxane remains an unregulated contaminant and, therefore, has a standard Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) at 50 ppb.

1,4 -dioxane molecule.

On July 8, 2019, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) accepted proposed regulations from the State’s Drinking Water Quality Council that will set an MCL for the compounds 1,4-dioxane, PFOA and PFOS. These proposed regulations are expected to be adopted in 2020. Currently, it is unclear when the established MCL’s will go into effect as well as when water providers must comply with the newly created guidelines.