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Press Release

NY State Establishes PFAS Surface Water Quality Guidance Values—Human Health Values Below Drinking Water Standards

By Keith P. Brodock, P.E., P.P., Principal

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently released their final Ambient Water Quality Guidance Values for PFOS and PFOA in state waters. The final Guidance Values are intended to protect the public and environment from exposure to PFOS and PFOA in ambient waters, including those used as drinking water sources.  

Of note, the human health Guidance Values for PFOS (2.7 ppt) and PFOA (6.7 ppt) are set lower than the State’s Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for these compounds. Under State rule, ambient water quality guidance values must be at least as stringent as drinking water MCLs. The State’s position is that these lower Guidance Values provide an additional margin of safety for protecting drinking water sources.  

To date, New York is one of few states that have promulgated PFAS surface water and groundwater standards/guidance that are lower than the State’s MCLs, joining Michigan and Wisconsin, which have also established surface water quality standards since 2022. An up-to-date summary of all promulgated and proposed surface water and drinking water values can be found on our interactive State-by-State PFAS Regulatory Criteria Map:  

New York’s Ambient Water Quality Guidance Values for PFOS and PFOA will be used to support permitting decisions for discharged wastewaters containing PFAS. The guidance values apply to all fresh water, including groundwater, which the State considers a source of potable water supply statewide. These values are intended to protect drinking water use and will ultimately drive groundwater remediation. 

This latest update from New York comes just after the USEPA announced their proposed federal MCLs of 4 ppt for PFOS and PFOA and amid continued PFAS regulatory activity at the state and federal level. Read more about the proposed EPA MCLs here: Other states are likely to continue developing stringent PFAS criteria to reflect EPA’s proposed values and to address public desire to regulate these compounds. 

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