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Drinking Water Contaminants

In addition to the Center's original mission focusing on the removal of nitrogen from wastewater, the Center has begun researching the development and evaluation of methods to remove emerging contaminants from drinking water supplies. This effort represents the initial phase of a State-sponsored, multi-year program to proactively address emerging contaminants in drinking water. 

1,4-Dioxane

The Center’s initial focus is on removal of 1,4-dioxane from drinking waters. 1,4-Dioxane is a probable human carcinogen and a widespread contaminant in Long Island's water supplies, with some of the nation’s highest concentrations detected here (up to 33 μg L -1). The Center is establishing a pilot program to test the effectiveness and feasibility of advanced/alternative water treatment technologies (e.g. Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOP) such as UV/H 2O 2 treatment) to remove 1,4-dioxane from drinking waters. The program has three interrelated objectives:

  • providing grants to support the pilot testing of treatment technologies by water suppliers;
  • evaluating the efficacy of pilot treatment technologies; and
  • research and development of novel or refined treatment technologies to remove 1,4-dioxane and associated byproducts from drinking water.

Research is being conducted to (i) understand the fate and transformation of 1,4-dioxane and formation of other toxic reaction byproducts during AOP treatment, and (ii) test a combination of treatment techniques with AOP (e.g. Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), Biological Activated Carbon (BAC) etc.) to enhance the removal of 1,4-dioxane and associated byproducts. 

Perfluorochemicals

The Center is also initiating research to address the increasing concern of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in NYS drinking water sources. PFAS are manmade chemicals that have been widely used in various commercial and industrial products since the 1950s. As a result, PFAS are released into the environment at significant quantities and have been detected in surface water, groundwater, animals, and humans worldwide. In order to assess Long Island water quality, the Center is in the process of establishing a testing facility to monitor a wide suite of PFAS using state-of-the-art instrumentation and methods. In addition, the Center will work closely with state, county, and local agencies to:

  • evaluate the efficiency of existing treatment approaches (GAC, ion-exchange treatment, and advanced oxidation processes) in removing PFAS;
  • research and develop novel or refined treatment technologies (novel sorbents and/or combination of technologies) to enhance the removal of PFASs from drinking water; and,
  • scale-up, build and test the feasibility of using select novel/refined treatment technologies for pilot-scale treatment (point-of-use and point-of-entry) of contaminated drinking water.
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