© 2023 WSKG

601 Gates Road
Vestal, NY 13850

217 N Aurora St
Ithaca, NY 14850

FCC Public Files:
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New York lawmakers introduce legislation to combat 'forever chemicals' in water sources

The front side of the state Capitol building in Albany, New York. (Daniel Case / CC BY-SA 3.0 Via Wikimedia Commons)
The front side of the state Capitol building in Albany, New York. (Daniel Case / CC BY-SA 3.0 Via Wikimedia Commons)

WRVO - Clean water advocates are urging New York State to take aggressive action on so-called “forever chemicals" in water sources.

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are substances found in everyday products, like non-stick pans, GORE-TEX and popcorn bags. They are called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment. So when they end up in landfills, contaminated water containing PFAS, called leachate, makes its way to drinking water sources.

Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of the Seneca Lake Guardian says Seneca Meadows landfill alone produces 75 million gallons of leachate every year.

"This untreated leachate gets hauled from Seneca Meadows to Buffalo, Watertown, Chittenango, Stueben County and even Newark, New Jersey, where it ends up in drinking water sources,” said Taylor.

Also, in New York State there are no limits to how much of this substance can be dumped into the drinking water sources, and no way to find the source of the chemicals.

So a new piece of proposed state legislation would require testing at all facilities that discharge waters to determine the prevalence of P-F-A-’s. One of the bill’s sponsors, Syracuse area State Senator Rachel May says it’s a first step, and something that becomes more important as water resources become more scarce.

"People are going to be moving to New York State because we have water, while water is drying up around the world,” said May. “And if we don’t protect it and keep it pure and drinkable and usable, then we are failing in our jobs to people and other species in this state now and in the future."

According to the EPA, health impacts of PFAS range from decreased fertility, an increased risk of some cancers, and a reduced ability of the body’s immune system to fight infections.