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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia Environmental Health Sciences Expert Appointed by Governor Cuomo to Water Quality Council

Dr. Joseph Graziano, professor of environmental health sciences at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to the state’s newly formed Drinking Water Quality Council. Members of the council will guide New York’s actions to ensure all communities in the state have access to clean drinking water. Its first task will be to make recommendations to establish enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for three priority emerging contaminants, which are not regulated by the federal government, that have been found in New York: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and 1,4-dioxane.

[Photo: Dr. Joseph Graziano]

Dr. Graziano, who is also professor of pharmacology at Columbia Medical Center, focuses his research on understanding the consequences of exposure to metals, which occurs via exposure in the home, such as lead paint, or arsenic in drinking water, or outdoors due to airborne emissions from industry or transportation vehicles. His current research is aimed at devising strategies to reduce toxicity and provide arsenic-free drinking water, a problem which  affects more than 150 million people around the world. His findings that both arsenic and manganese in drinking water are associated with cognitive deficits in children, add urgency to solving this enormous public health and environmental problem.

“Using the best available science and tapping an array of experts, this new council will provide science-based recommendations for the development of regulations to assure that good-quality drinking water remains available to all New Yorkers,” said Governor Cuomo. “Water quality is a national issue that requires consistent national standards, but New York can no longer afford to wait.”

Established as part of the FY2018 budget, the council also will make recommendations to the New York State Department of Health on appropriate timeframes and frequencies for testing emerging contaminants, best practices for public notifications if an emerging contaminant is found above a notification level in drinking water, whether and when to remove contaminants from an emerging contaminants list. The council’s first meeting, which focused on Long Island’s drinking water issues, took place on October 2; a second meeting will happen later this year. New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker chairs the council.