PFAS levels in Cairo water decline

File photoResidents air their concerns about drinking water quality at a Cairo Town Board meeting in this February 5 file photo. A recent engineering report indicates a decline in the levels of PFAS in the town’s drinking water supply.

CAIRO — A recent report from Delaware Engineering shows that levels of PFAS, a man-made chemical contaminant, is on the decline in Cairo’s municipal drinking water.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluroalkyl substances, form a group of contaminants, including PFOA and PFOS, that resist degradation and accumulate in the human body.

PFAS have been linked to serious illnesses such as kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, preeclampsia and other conditions, according to ag.ny.gov.

The town’s well was among the sites sampled in the state Attorney General’s lawsuit against DuPont, 3M and other PFAS manufacturers, which was filed in November.

Cairo’s public drinking water is supplied by a well, fed by groundwater, at Angelo Canna Town Park, according to the report. PFOS were commonly used in firefighting foam. These foams were previously used at the Greene County Training Center on Mountain Avenue.

Results of the town’s 2019 water quality report set PFOS levels of 8.37 parts per trillion before treatment and 8.51 after treatment. The water is treated with soda ash and chlorine, according to the report. The water sample used for this testing was taken in October 2017.

A new test was performed by Delaware Engineering, Town Supervisor John Coyne said Wednesday, which showed the levels are now at 3 parts per trillion.

The water report from 2018 also shows that the level is decreasing. The 2018 report levels were at 13.3 ppt before treatment and 11.3 after treatment using a water sample from October 2017.

The EPA has a nonenforceable health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion. The state Department of Health is proposing a maximum containment level of 10 parts per trillion for both PFOS and PFOA, respectively.

The PFAS Action Act, which would require the EPA to set a maximum contaminant level passed the House of Representatives in late January.

“I’m working alongside my colleagues every day to protect our communities from known contaminants like PFOA and PFOS,” U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado. D-19, said. “I’m proud to join a bipartisan coalition to introduce legislation that will enable everyone in upstate New York to test their well water and ensure their personal water supply is free of harmful chemicals. It is critically important that our communities know what is in their drinking water, and I encourage the House to take up this common-sense bill as soon as possible to increase transparency and keep our water safe.”

Progress securing drinking and cooking water for the Cairo-Durham Elementary School was announced at a recent Board of Education meeting.

The district ordered water coolers and water to supply the water foundations and the kitchen, according to meeting minutes.

“The water and water coolers are on site and will be operational when we return to school from the current closure,” Cairo-Durham Superintendent Michael Wetherbee said Wednesday. “At this point we are unsure how much water will be needed. That is something we will evaluate as we move forward. This does only impact the elementary campus. The other campus (Middle/High School) is not on town water. The district is working in conjunction with the town and county to supply the water.”

The district closed March 17 due to the coronavirus outbreak and will remain closed until at least April 1, according to the district website.

“The town and county are working together as a team with the district to take care of the issue,” Coyne said.

When asked if the town or county will be providing financial assistance to the school, Coyne said the logistics are still being worked out.

“We will meet again in June to make preparations for the fall,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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