WEST NYACK, N.Y. -- Rockland County residents who recently received a drinking water quality notice from SUEZ do not have to worry about drinking the water or boiling the water, according to Suez officials in West Nyack.
Customers received the notice advising them that the company exceeded a drinking water quality standard at two testing locations.
Laboratory results showed that the average trihalomethane levels were 80.6 parts per billion (ppb) and 84.2 ppb, slightly above the 80 ppb standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Trihalomethanes are byproducts which form when chlorine used to treat drinking water reacts with organic material that is naturally present in source water.
The notice, prepared in consultation with the Rockland County Department of Health, using specific language required by the New York State Department of Health, explains that this did not represent a public health emergency.
“We want to assure our customers that they don’t need to use bottled water or boil their water,” said Chris Graziano, vice president and general manager of SUEZ. “All public water systems that use chlorine as a disinfectant contain trihalomethanes to some degree.”
Graziano explained that the water treatment process includes adding chlorine to destroy harmful bacteria. The use of chlorine is considered one of the greatest public health advances of the 20th Century.
Chlorine prevents water-borne illnesses such as typhoid or cholera. According to the World Health Organization, the risk of illness and death from untreated water is very much greater than the risks of disinfection byproducts.
Disinfection byproducts are more likely to occur when surface water is used as the source for drinking water. About 30 percent of SUEZ’ source water is surface water while the balance comes from wells.
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