State and County Health Departments Issue "DO NOT DRINK" Water Advisories for Dover Middle and High School in Dutchess County

New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation Launch Investigation to Identify Potential Sources of Contamination

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 17, 2021 - The New York State Department of Health, in coordination with theDutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health,today recommended "Do Not Drink" advisories for the Dover Middle Schooland Dover High School in Dover Plains, New York.The advisory, issued out of an abundance of caution, directs the school communityto stop using water for drinking, cooking and food preparation.New York State is coordinating with the county and school district to ensure bottled water is being provided to the schools as needed.Water continues to be acceptable for uses such ashandwashingand various cleaning activities including washing dishes.

The "Do Not Drink" advisories were issued following the very recent discovery of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in the schools' water systems at levels above New York's recently adopted,and highly protective, Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) of 10 parts per trillion, each, for PFOA and PFOS.The standards require water systems of all sizes to test for these previously unregulated contaminants, notify consumers if the results exceed the standards, and take the appropriate actions to bring the water systems back into compliance.The sampling also showed elevated levels of a similar, unregulated chemical, perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA).

Theschool district isworking closely with Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Healthand New York State agencies to collect additional samples and discuss long-term solutions to improve water quality. Additionally, the State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Health (DOH) are working to identify and address potential sources of contamination.New York State agencies are also working with Dutchess County and school administrators to provide additional information, answer questions, and conduct outreach to these school communities to ensure school families are notified.

Potential Health Effects of PFOA, PFOS and PFHxA

PFOA, PFOS and PFHxA are part of a group of man-made, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances found in a wide range of consumer products such as cookware, cleaning products, food packaging, stain repellants, and firefighting foam, among others.The available information on the health effects associated with these chemicals, like many chemicals, mostly comes fromstudies of high-level exposure in animals. Less is known about the chances of health effects occurring from lower levels of exposure, such as from drinking the schools' water.As a result, finding lower levels of chemicals in drinking water prompts water suppliers and regulators to take precautions that include notifying consumers and taking steps to reduce exposure.

High dose studies in animals indicate that PFOA, PFOS and PFHxA can cause a wide range of health effects with the most consistent findings being effects on the liver and immune system and impaired fetal growth and development. The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers PFOA and PFOS as having suggestive evidence for causing cancer based on studies of animals exposed to high levels of this chemical over their lifetimes. The NYS MCLs for PFOA and PFOS are highly protective against these health effects, but at levels well above the MCLs it is prudent to take interim "Do Not Drink" measures to reduce exposure at these schools.PFHxA is currently unregulated.

In February 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo created a Water Quality Rapid Response Team, led by DEC and DOH, to quickly investigate water contamination reports across New York and take corrective action to address these contamination issues.This Water Quality Rapid Response Team has taken unprecedented action to investigate and clean up PFAS contamination and to ensure New Yorkers have access to clean water.To support this effort, DEC works with DOH and numerous entities, including local health departments, drinking water providers and authorities, and federal, state, county, and municipal governments toprotect and clean upgroundwater.

Additional Resources

The school community will be informed on progress to reduce the PFOA and PFOS levels and when the water is deemed acceptable for all uses.