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3 Long Island Laundromats Ordered To Test Waste Water For Probable Carcinogen

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Department of Environmental Conservation has ordered some laundromats to test for a cancer-causing chemical that was found in nearly all of the water districts on Long Island.

The man-made chemical 1,4-dioxane – which is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as a "probable carcinogen" — was used in aviation, manufacturing and agricultural operations. It is now being used as a stabilizer in solvents, and personal care products including shampoos and laundry detergents.

The department has ordered the owners of three laundromats that have permits up for renewal to test the waste water coming from their businesses.

"A laundromat with a lot of detergents coming out of their waste water may in fact be what is called a point source of contamination, which simply means might be a contributor to 1,4-dioxane entering into our groundwater and our drinking water," said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, 71 percent of water districts tested positive for the chemical.

The laundromats are located in St. James, Bay Shore and Lake Ronkonkoma.

"It'll help us gain some more knowledge and some more science on this issue and that is something that is dramatically needed," Esposito said.

The laundromat owner complained that he's already installed an expensive filtration system, and challenged the soap companies to take out the chemical.

Last month, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky proposed a bill that would set regulations of the chemical. He wants to set a maximum level allowed by law that water districts must follow.

"With a restaurant centric type of village this is absolutely important, but is important to all of us because water is life, and we are water," Patchogue Chamber of Commerce spokesman James Skidmore said.

Sipping lattes and teas at their favorite coffee house -- college students from Suffolk Community are studying water quality.

"We should keep our water clean because we have so many aquifers right underneath our ground," Amanda Cioffi said.

Long Island is unique -- it's sole source of water is a network of underground aquifers.

"I don't think we are that conscious of what we are putting into our own water," Samantha Hughes said.

The Suffolk County Water Authority is also building a nearly $1 million ultraviolet reactor – the first of its kind in the state – that can neutralize 1,4-dioxane.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in his State of the State address that there will be further testing for 1,4-dioxane on Long Island this year.

Cuomo also proposed a $2 billion fund to pay for clean water infrastructure, helping communities install treatment systems to get rid of contaminants.

Effects of 1,4-dioxane vary, depending on a person's exposure, health and age.

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