EDITORIAL: No more delays in signing water testing bill

Residents of Hoosick Falls, whose water supply was contaminated by PFOA, called for legislative hearings on the matter at a news conference in Albany.
Residents of Hoosick Falls, whose water supply was contaminated by PFOA, called for legislative hearings on the matter at a news conference in Albany.

Back in September, we said in an editorial that there was no time to waste for Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign legislation that would expand testing for dangerous chemicals in local drinking water supplies.

Well, since that editorial was published, she’s wasted more than two months that could have been used by the state Health Department to get procedures and regulations in place so the testing could begin.

By continuing to allow this legislation to go unsigned, she’s potentially allowing more citizens to be exposed to these chemicals.

No more excuses. No more delays.

The legislation (A126A/S1759), which passed both houses of the Legislature with widespread bipartisan support back in early June, would require every municipal water system in the state to test for 40 so-called “emerging contaminants.”

Emerging contaminant include toxic chemicals from manufacturing, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and landfills that get into the soil and into drinking water sources.

Federal environmental law allows about 2,000 smaller municipal water systems in the state not to test for these emerging chemicals.

That loophole leaves about 2.5 million New Yorkers at greater risk for exposure to these chemicals.

The list of covered chemicals in the bill includes PFAS, the class of chemicals used in the manufacture of nonstick cookware, stainless carpets and fire-suppression foam responsible for contaminating the water supplies several area communities, including Hoosick Falls.

The New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog organization, says the need for the governor to authorize the enhanced municipal water testing has grown more urgent recently after the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that PFAS chemicals PFOA and PFOS are far more dangerous than the agency previously thought.

PFAS chemicals build up in the body and never break down in the environment.

Very small doses of PFAS have been linked to cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, and other diseases.

According to NYPIRG, the EPA has determined that safe levels of exposure to PFOA and PFOS are actually thousands of times lower than their current health advisory level.

That’s alarming, but not really surprising, given our state’s recent history with the health impacts of these chemicals.

So what’s the holdup on signing the bill?

We know the governor is busy. But it wouldn’t take long to sign her name to a bill that could help reduce the threat of dangerous chemicals in our drinking supplies.

We say again, there’s no more time to waste in moving this vital public health legislation forward.

Enough time has been wasted already.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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