NY Sets New Standards for Drinking Water Contaminants

Napoli Shkonilk PLLC supports New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement regarding “forever chemicals” and 1,4-Dioxane. This is a first-in-the-nation drinking water standard for emerging contaminant 1,4-Dioxane.

Maximum contaminant limits (MCLs) were set at 10 parts per trillion each for Perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA”) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”) (collectively “PFAS”) and 1 part per billion for 1,4-Dioxane. The MCLs for PFAS in New York’s drinking water are among the lowest in the United States.

We believe this is a strong first step in making sure the responsibility for this widespread water contamination lies not with the water districts or rate payers, but by the manufacturers of the chemicals who knowingly introduced these defective chemicals into the water. The firm is representing numerous communities against these companies whose products contaminated the drinking water supply.

The contaminants 1,4-Dioxane and PFAS substances have become the subject of widespread national public health concerns. These “emerging contaminants” are increasingly being discovered in the groundwater and drinking water supply throughout the country. Their extreme persistence in the environment, along with their toxicity, mobility, and bioaccumulation potential, pose probable adverse effects to human health and the environment. There is no safe level of exposure, which has been linked to numerous cancers (kidney, prostate, testicular, uclerative,liver and thyroid) as well as pre-eclampsia, low birth weight and pregnancy induced hypertension.

All three contaminants have been detected in drinking water systems across the country, yet remain unregulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is responsible for setting regulatory limits under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

These new enforceable limits on 1,4-Dioxane, PFOA and PFOS will require all water systems in New York to regularly test and monitor for these chemicals, many for the first time, regardless of size. The regulations will go into effect as soon as they are published in the next State Register.

We support New York State’s commitment in addressing emerging contaminants in drinking water and encourage other states to take the same steps to mitigate this national threat in their community. These new standards lay a stronger legal foundation for us in our fight against the manufacturers of these dangerous chemicals.


What is Aqueous Film-Forming Foam?

For decades, these ‘forever chemicals’ were also a key component of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (“AFFF”), a fire suppressant widely used at municipal airports and military bases to combat jet fuel spills. AFFF used to combat these fires and in training exercise has caused these chemicals to leach into underground aquifers and surface water bodies used for drinking water across the country.

The first lawsuits brought against the manufacturers and distributors of AFFF were filed in 2016. In 2018, the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation consolidated these lawsuits into a single action in the District of South Carolina before Judge Richard Gergel. See In Re: Aqueous Film-Forming Foams Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2:18-mn-2873-RMG (D.S.C.). Since then, more than two hundred cases have either been filed in or transferred to the coordinated MDL proceedings before Judge Gergel, all of which involve allegations by plaintiffs that PFAS contaminated groundwater near various military bases, airports, and other industrial sites where AFFFs were used to extinguish liquid fuel fires. Shortly after it was established, Judge Gergel approved a leadership structure for the MDL, which included appointing Of Counsel to the firm Paul J. Napoli.