U.S. Water News Online
NEW YORK -- The city was testing well water used by a
Queens car wash to see if it could have contaminated tap water in
several neighborhoods with a chemical used in dry cleaning and auto
body repair, officials said.
The city's Department of Environmental Protection said recent
tests have shown falling levels of the chemical, tetrachloroethylene,
also known as PERC.
Levels slightly above the standard for the chemical were first
found in a sample collected during routine testing May 1, the DEP
said. Of 105 samples tested in the St. Albans, Cambria Heights,
Hollis and Queens Village neighborhoods, 20 samples were above
federal standards, while about half of the samples showed no trace of
the chemical, the DEP said.
The city discovered that Cambria Car Wash had been illegally
connecting to the city's water system, while at the same time using
water from a well, DEP spokeswoman Anne Canty said. The company's
well water could have entered the illegal service line at some point
during fluctuations in water pressure, because the illegal connection
had no meter or ways to manage the pressure, Canty said.
The company's owner agreed to have the well water tested and the
connection was cut off, the DEP said. No test results were available.
About 12,000 people live in the neighborhoods that could have
contaminated water, the city said.
Exposure to large amounts of PERC can affect the nervous system,
and very long-term exposure can increase cancer risks, but the
"minute amounts" found in the water in Queens were not expected to
cause health problems, the DEP said.
Still, the DEP has suggested residents use bottled water and take
shorter showers if they are concerned.
The highest PERC concentrations detected in the water have been 13
parts per billion, compared to the federal standard of 5 parts per
billion, the agency said.
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