Well Tests and Bottled Water

In an expansion of its survey of private wells in the vicinity of East Hampton Airport, the Suffolk County Health Department is testing 88 wells in Sagaponack Village and adjacent areas for the presence of toxic perfluorinated compounds, said Janice Wilson, a chief legislative aide for Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

The compounds, known as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), have been identified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency as contaminants that pose an emerging concern as a health risk. PFOS is a key ingredient in fabric protectors and stain repellents, and is found in products such as paints, varnishes, and cleaning products. PFOA is used in creating a coating on cookware and in other consumer products. Both substances have been used to make firefighting foams.

In October, County Health Department officials announced that they had detected the chemicals in wells in Wainscott, which ultimately led the East Hampton Town Board to declare a state of emergency in order to provide affected residents with financial help to install water-filtration devices. The town is also planning, in the longer term, to extend public water mains to residential and commercial properties within the hamlet.

The new round of tests are taking place in areas within Southampton Town, and although there is not yet any indication that the PFOS or PFOA levels are above acceptable limits, the town has begun delivering supplies of bottled water to Sagaponack Village Hall for affected residents to pick up, said Ms. Wilson. The town will also be sending a letter to the homeowners, alerting them to the testing, and providing them with an order form to have the bottled water delivered directly to their houses.