October 28, 2019 11:14 AM

The Suffolk County Water Authority has received approval from the New York State Department of Health to use a test method developed in-house that will not only detect perfluorinated compounds such as PFOS and PFOA down to lower levels than current methods but will also save time and money.

SCWA received approval from the state for a testing method that bypasses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved solid phase extraction in favor of a method by which the sample collection is injected directly into a highly sensitive mass spectrometer. Eliminating solid phase extraction is not only quicker and less expensive but detects the contaminants down to two parts-per-trillion, which is significantly lower than the EPA method.

“New York State generally does not approve methodologies, so we’re very proud to have our method approved for use,” said SCWA Director of Water Quality and Laboratory Services Kevin Durk. “We feel the method we developed will serve as a great tool in our efforts to address the contamination of Long Island’s groundwater by perfluorinated compounds.”

SCWA is not the first to use direct injection for chemical testing, but is the first to receive approval for its use in New York State to test for perfluorinated compounds. In addition to testing for PFOS and PFOA, the method can also be used for approximately 10 additional perfluorinated compounds, though the additional compounds are not as potentially toxic as PFOS and PFOA.

PFOS and PFOA are fluorinated organic chemicals used to make carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper packaging for food and non-stick cookware, among other products. They have also been used in various industrial processes and in firefighting foams. Both are considered to be potentially carcinogenic by the EPA.

Although there is currently no chemical-specific maximum contaminant level for PFOS/PFOA, SCWA removes the chemicals from the water supply when detected with granular activated carbon or resin.

“The approval of this test method is just the latest example of the extraordinary measures taken by the Suffolk County Water Authority to ensure the safety of our customers’ drinking water,” said SCWA Chairman Patrick G. Halpin. “When it comes in particular to emerging contaminants, no one is doing more to protect the public health than SCWA.”

SCWA is currently pursuing a patent for its PFOS/PFOA test method.

The Suffolk County Water Authority is an independent public-benefit corporation operating under the authority of the Public Authorities Law of the State of New York. Serving approximately 1.2 million Suffolk County residents, the Authority operates without taxing power on a not-for-profit basis.

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