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How safe is the tap water on Long Island? New map shows amount of toxic chemicals

Environmental group says analysis of tap water on Long Island reveals alarming results
Environmental group says analysis of tap water on Long Island reveals alarming results 02:15

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. - How safe is your tap water?

It's easier now for Long Island residents to find out. 

An environmental group has launched an interactive map that shows the amount of some toxic chemicals in the public water supply. 

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, they call the results alarming. 

Lunch in Famingdale brings family together from across Long Island, but no one's drinking the tap water

"We are a little afraid of the ground water on Long Island," one person said. 

"I say bottled," said another. 

It's a common response. 

Long Island gets its drinking water from an underground aquifer, unlike New York City's pristine Catskills water. Long Island's water is more vulnerable to chemicals called PFAS. 

"Over a million people on Long island drinking PFAS chemicals over the EPA recommended health advisory standard, and that's a million too many. We need New York state to take a giant leap forward," said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 

Citizens Campaign for the Environment surveyed PFAS in Long Island water districts and put them online for the public. You can see it by CLICKING HERE

"We are finding an alarming amount of PFAS chemicals," Esposito said. 

PFAS are highly toxic forever chemicals found in nonstick products, waterproofing and firefighting foams. 

"They are very persistent in the environment. They take thousands of years to break down and they build up in our bodies," said Maureen Dolan Murphy of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 

Exposure has been linked to cancers, immunity, fertility and learning problems. The EPA advises new limits far lower than what New York allows. 

Environmental groups are urging the New York state Department of Health to strengthen regulations, finding more than 600,000 Long Islanders drink water that exceeds current standards. 

"They are drinking close to 100 ppt of PFAS chemcials" in parts of eastern Suffolk, said Jordan Christenen of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "When we look around other states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine - they all have a standard of 20 ppt cumulatively. There is no reason New York state should be higher."

"New York has been a national leader when it comes to regulating emerging contaminants and will continue to be with the latest regulations currently moving through the formal approval process. As part of that process, public participation and input has been greatly appreciated, and all comments will be reviewed and considered," a spokesperson for the New York state Department of Health said.

Water districts servicing 500,000 Long Islanders had no detected PFAS at all. 

You can check the map to see where your water stands. 

A fix is possible, but expensive. It could local water district $1 million to install a carbon filter on just one well. Federal assistance is available. 

The Town of Huntington issued a statement about the Dix Hills Water District. 

"The  PFAS test results used in recent media reports represent the highest values of hundred of total tests taken throughout the year, which means they do not represent the water quality in any given location at any give time. The fact is that, on average, the level of these contaminants found in our drinking water is non-detect," John Hennessy, superintendent of the Dix Hills Water District wrote. "The Dix Hill Water District meets or surpasses all drinking water quality regulations." 

Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment responded to that. 

"The fact is this data came from each individual water supplier's website. That means when the water was tested these high levels of PFAS chemicals were in fact, detected in the drinking water. People drank that water, since people drink water every day. It may, however, be true that, on average the test results show non-detect however, the law does not allow chemicals to be found intermittently," Esposito said. " In other words, they cannot comply with the standard sometimes or on an average. It must be complied with every day. It is incorrect to tell people the  water is safe, and that the data does not reflect the true situation. Yes, those are the high levels that were found in their water. I know they just want to keep people calm and reassure the public, but they shouldn't lie to the public."

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