Potable Water at Bemus Point Elementary

Potable Water at Bemus Point Elementary
Posted on 10/28/2021

BPCSD letterhead


Routine monitoring of our drinking water has detected an area of concern and we want parents, faculty and staff to be informed about what we found and the steps we are taking to address the concern. Water sample results received on Friday, October 8, 2021 for Bemus Point Elementary indicated the presence of the chemical perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at a level of 26 parts per trillion (ppt). Out of an abundance of caution, the Chautauqua County Health Department recommended that we switch to using bottled water for drinking and cooking until additional samples are collected. The water is safe to use for other purposes including washing hands and dishes. The switch to bottled water was complete by Monday, October 11, 2021. 

PFNA is an emerging contaminant with only a limited amount of health data and is not regulated at the federal or state levels. Two chemicals in the same group as PFNA, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), began to be regulated in New York State in 2020, with their maximum allowable level set at 10 parts per trillion (ppt). 

Samples were collected again on Wednesday, October 13, and results received on Friday, October 22. These samples were collected from each well individually and showed that Well 1 contained elevated levels of the following: perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at 82 ppt, perfluorohexanoic acid (PHFxA) at 130 ppt and perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA) at 19 ppt. Well 2 samples contained NO levels over 10 parts per trillion. As an interim solution, we have been instructed to shut down Well 1 and rely solely on Well 2. We are currently flushing the system of residual water from Well 1. Until flushing is complete, bottled water will continue to be used for drinking and cooking. The best long-term solution for this problem is to install treatment that removes these chemicals from our drinking water. 

The current testing in Bemus Point Central School shows much lower levels of exposure than in lab studies but still prompts regulators to take precautions that include notifying consumers and taking steps to reduce exposure.

This family of man made chemicals are found in a wide range of consumer products that people use daily such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants among others. These chemicals are being scrutinized by health agencies in NYS and elsewhere because they may cause serious health problems. Available information on the health effects associated with PFNA, like many chemicals, comes from laboratory studies of high-level exposure in animals. These findings show they can affect the liver, thyroid and immune system, and cause delayed growth and deve_lopment. Less is known about the health effects occurring from lower levels of exposure to PFNA, such as those that might occur in drinking water. There is less information available abput the health effects of PHFxA and PHFpA, but what is available indicates it does not pose the same serious of heath affects as PFNA, PFOA or PFOS. 

The Chautauqua County Health Department, with assistance from the NYSDOH, will be investigating the surrounding area to determine if this is a wide spread problem.

We will keep you informed about this situation as we work with the County Health Department on a long-term solution. Questions about this can be directed to the Bemus Point School District at 716-386-2375 or the County Health Department at 716-753-4481. 

Public Water System ID#: NY0616756   Date: 10/26/2021 

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