A Complete Guide to 1,4 Dioxane and the Danger It Poses to the Average American

1,4 Dioxane is a pollutant and possible carcinogen that can be found in tap water in over half of the 50 states.

By Alex Bakirdan

The man-made chemical known as 1,4 dioxane has been making waves in the news over the past few years after being discovered as a major pollutant in several regions across the country. Long Island is one of the places hardest hit by 1,4 dioxane pollution, and removing it from Long Island’s tap water has become a high priority as the pollutant is suspected to cause several different types of cancer. It is listed as a probable human carcinogen based on the results of animal testing, but as of yet there have been no long-term studies on its effect on humans. 

But what is 1,4 dioxane? How did it get into American water supplies? And what can ordinary Americans do to avoid the pollutant as much as possible? 

What Is 1,4 Dioxane and where is it found?

1,4 Dioxane is a man-made chemical, one that mixes seamlessly with water, so it is impossible to detect it in water with the naked eye. Its original use was as a stabilizing agent for various solvents and products including TCA. This means it was typically present in order to prevent the solvent from degrading. In other words, it prevents the solvent from undergoing a chemical change that prevents the solvent from working in its intended way. It was also originally found in many products like paints and inks, but it has mostly been removed from these over time. 

But that isn’t the only place that 1,4 Dioxane had been used. 

It’s found in many household cleaning products such as dish soaps and detergents, along with various personal hygiene products like shampoos. Some examples of daily household products that contain 1,4 dioxane include Tide Original Detergent and Gain Original Detergent as well as Dawn dish soap. Most detergents and dish soaps as well as many hand soaps, body washes and shampoos contain the chemical. While it isn’t extremely dangerous through skin contact alone, the runoff from the shampoo makes its way into the local water supply, and this is where the problem lies. The CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry created a public health statement on 1,4 Dioxane which explores exactly how regular people might ingest the substance and the dangers that it poses.  

Why is 1,4 Dioxane dangerous?

While the chemical is believed to be a carcinogen, the federal government has never given it a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). Since it does not have an MCL this means that public drinking water systems are not required to regularly test for it. Despite not setting an MCL, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has calculated that the maximum recommended safe limit is 0.35 micrograms per liter, or 0.35 parts 1,4 dioxane for every billion parts water. 

But consuming even slightly more than these small amounts daily may lead to an increased risk of cancer in the long run. This means that areas in which the water exceeds the maximum safe guidelines are areas potentially at risk of seeing increased cancer rates. What makes the chemical more dangerous is that it is not filtered out by the standard water treatment plans employed at water treatment facilities. 

It does not easily break down in the natural environment, meaning that once it enters an ecosystem, it will not go away on its own. It is also known to leach into groundwater relatively easily, and as such, places like Long Island’s aquifers have been contaminated by the chemical. Knowing that the problem exists doesn’t help an ordinary citizen much; they will still have to use their tap water regularly for things such as cooking and drinking, but the state of New York, along with several other states across the country, has started to take steps to attack the problem. 

How might someone accidentally consume 1,4 Dioxane?

1,4 Dioxane is a believed carcinogen, which means that scientists believe exposure causes cancer, specifically cancer of the liver and kidneys. But how might an unaware average Joe consume the chemical? There are three main ways, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). 

The first of the three ways is inhalation, which is by far the most dangerous but also the least likely to occur to the average person. Inhalation of 1,4 dioxane, over a short period of time causes irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. Large periods or amounts of exposure will result in severe damage to the liver and kidneys as well as the respiratory system. Since it is typically only found in the air at places where it is being produced or used as a solvent however, this type of exposure is more likely to impact workers who are in factories that use it or who spray solvents like pesticides that contain it. 

The second way, through drinking it, poses less of an immediate and drastic threat, but this makes it far more likely for regular people to drink it unknowingly over an extended period of time. Let’s look at a hypothetical situation to see how this could happen to a regular American. Steve, our hypothetical American, lives on Long Island, one of the areas with the worst levels of 1,4 Dioxane pollution in the country. Steve knows that he needs to stay hydrated and so every day he makes sure to drink plenty of water. 

In that water however, he is unknowingly drinking 1,4 Dioxane. Since the chemical is odorless and colorless at the levels found in water, there’s no way for him to tell that the chemical is in his water just by looking at it. The good news for our hypothetical American is that after 1,4 dioxane enters the body through the digestive system it is broken down into other chemicals and quickly leaves the body. The bad news is that long-term exposure that comes from drinking the contaminated water day after day can impact the liver and the kidneys, the two parts of the body that do this work to filter the toxins out. Steve is asking his liver and kidneys to filter out 1,4 dioxane every day even without knowing he is doing so. 

Drinking water is the most troubling way in which the average American can be exposed to 1,4 dioxane as it is the one that most people have the least control over. Steps are being taken by local and state governments across the country to regulate and reduce the problem and by using the EWG’s interactive map people can see if there is 1,4 dioxane is in the water where they live. Drinking bottled water is an option that can help people avoid 1,4 dioxane, but is both more expensive and creates plastic pollution which damages the ecosystem in other ways. 

The third way in which someone may be exposed to 1,4 dioxane is through the skin. While studies have shown that 1,4 dioxane can enter the body through the skin, most of it will evaporate before it absorbs into the skin. It is also easier to avoid 1,4 dioxane entering through the skin simply by limiting the use of cosmetics, detergents and bath products that contain the chemical. To identify which products may contain 1,4 dioxane, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a helpful list. 

When picking out products at the store, people should look for the chemicals polyethylene glycol (PEG), polyethylene, polyoxyethylene, and oxynol-. These are the ingredients that the NIH has identified as most likely to contain 1,4 dioxane and as such are best avoided by cautious consumers. 

Insert image/chart of example products that contain 1,4 dioxane

Where is the problem? What is being done about it?

Over 1/5th of all U.S. drinking water now contains 1,4 dioxane, and according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) more than 7 million Americans in 27 states are getting water from sources that contain more than the maximum safe limit for lifetime cancer risk. Some places in Long Island, such as the Water Authority of Western Nassau which serves about 120,000 people, have reported 1,4 dioxane levels as high as 12.0 ug/L which is an alarming 34 times the maximum safe level recommended by the EPA and the state of New York. 

Long Island as a whole is considered one of the hotspots for the issue, with 36 of the area’s water districts reporting levels over that of the EPA’s recommended maximum according to a study conducted by Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Other areas in the country that have faced serious problems with 1,4 dioxane pollution include Los Angeles County in southern California and the Cape Fear area in North Carolina. The good news is that each area has begun to tackle the problem with varying degrees of success.

New York has begun to take action against 1,4 dioxane in the past year, and in December of 2019, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that will make it illegal for products such as household cleaners, soaps, detergents and shampoos to contain anymore than trace amounts of 1,4 dioxane. The bill will not take effect until 2022 however, meaning the products will remain on the shelves in their current form for another two years.

Suffolk County Tries to Take on Nitrogen Pollution Causing Algal Blooms In Its Waters

By Alex Bakirdan

As the season for algal blooms begins this May, Suffolk County is working to tackle the nitrogen pollution issue at its root.

Excess nutrients like nitrogen are one of the main causes of blooms, and septic systems have been leaching the element through wastewater into Suffolk County’s groundwater for decades according to the Peconic Estuary. Marine scientists say that the problem is only going to get worse unless it’s dealt with now.

“Rising sea levels are going to make this worse.” said Kevin McAllister, the founder of Defend H2O and former Long Island baykeeper. “In 40 years time many of these coastal septic systems will be sitting in groundwater.”

Algal blooms are an explosion of algal growth in a water body that can result from an excess of nitrogen and some blooms are dangerous to the health of humans and the ecosystem. More than 360,000 septic systems and cesspools in Suffolk County homes contribute to nearly 70 percent of the total nitrogen pollution load in Suffolk County. The systems are designed to treat waste for bacteria and viruses, but they don’t eliminate nitrogen from the wastewater that’s seeping into the ground.

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The nitrogen passes through the septic system, enters the groundwater through a series of perforated pipes called a leaching field and eventually seeps into  lakes, ponds, rivers and the ocean, where excessive levels lead to harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Suffolk County’s Reclaim Our Water Initiative is working to replace the cesspools and septic systems with new Innovative Alternative (I/A) septic systems designed to treat the nitrogen. The I/A systems contain a new treatment unit that uses naturally occurring bacteria to reduce the nitrogen content in wastewater.

“The program is a grant program that features a county grant of up to $20,000, with a $10,000 base grant and two $5,000 incentives,” Justin Jobin, the Suffolk County Environmental Projects Manager, said. Jobin, who is the program manager for the Septic Improvement Program, spends much of his time going to different community events in places like East Islip and East Hampton to educate people on septic system replacements.

Part of the reason Suffolk County needed to implement the grant program is due to the cost of the newer systems.

“Thats really the main drawback of these I/A systems,” said Peter Lelakowski, a representative from sanitation company Norsic & Son. “They cost quite a lot of money to install.”

The county program helps homeowners to get rid of their basic cesspools or older model septic systems.

“Suffolk is in the midst of trying to phase out the existing cesspools that don’t treat anything at all,” Linda Perlow, an officer for the Long Island Liquid Waste Association (LILWA), said.

So far the county’s Septic Improvement Program, a program under the Reclaim Our Water Initiative, has installed 92 I/A systems and is awaiting 112 installations, Jobin said.

“[Suffolk County] really wants to cut down on the amount of nitrogen entering the environment,” Mike Perlow, another member of LILWA, said.   

Almost 70 percent of the nitrogen pollution can be attributed to the Long Island homes with septic systems or cesspools, according to the Suffolk County Government,.

“Nitrogen in the Long Island Sound contributes to excessive phytoplankton blooms, which are particularly troublesome in the summer months,” Matt Lyman, environmental analyst for the Long Island Sound Study, said.

These phytoplankton blooms, more commonly known as algal blooms, red tides, rust tides or brown tides, have been blooming all over the island, with increasing frequency in recent years. In late 2017, the MightyMan Montauk Triathlon, a race in Montauk, had to cancel the swim portion of the competition due to a harmful algal bloom in the water. Last year, the event was moved to Navy Beach because of the same issue.

In 2018, 23 separate harmful algal blooms were reported in locations all over Suffolk County, including Fort Pond in Montauk and in Lake Ronkonkoma. The bloom in Lake Ronkonkoma, which first began in early May of 2018, forced Suffolk County to close the largest lake on Long Island to swimmers and waders.

Some phytoplankton blooms produce bacteria that can be harmful to humans and animals by causing vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation and other health issues. When produced the bacteria can accumulate in shellfish tissue as they eat the algae, making them dangerous for human consumption.

Algal blooms are also harmful to marine life and can potentially devastate entire marine populations. “About ten years ago there was a die off of diamondback terrapins in Tuttle’s Creek which is in Peconic Bay,” McAllister said. The terrapins had been eating mussels which were contaminated due to an algal bloom in the area.

The shellfish industry in Accabonac Harbor once thrived, supporting entire families. Now the industry is dwindling, with large swaths of water entirely closed to shellfishing.

“All along the southern part of the harbor, acres are closed to shellfishing because of the nitrogen pollution,” Francesca Rheannon, president of Accabonac Protection Committee, said.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) closed several large sections of the harbor for shellfishing and expanded the closed areas by 20 acres in 2015.

“As [the blooms] die and decompose they sink to the bottom which can lead to hypoxia in the water as well,” Lyman said. Hypoxia, which is when a body of water’s oxygen levels are low or depleted, can cause the death of fish, shellfish and other marine life and often prompts survivors to flee the area.

“Fifty years ago is when we really would’ve needed to get a grip on this,”  McAllister said. “I’ve been sounding the alarm on this since 2005 or six after what I saw at the Forge River with the rust tide and they’re finally starting to do something about it.”

“The first hurdle we had to get over was just getting people to understand that they actually needed to get their septic systems pumped,” Kate Rossi-Snook, environmental advocate for Concerned Citizens for Montauk, said. “People, some who had owned their homes for seventeen years, had never had their systems pumped. The systems are supposed to be pumped once every three to five years.”

Although not many residents know they need to replace their septic system, the program is still plenty popular.

“We’re currently getting about 60 applications per month,” Jobin said. “Our capacity is about 80 per month so we’re not trying to advertise too much right now.”

The program originally only had access to $2 million per year, which would have added up to about 200 grants. But the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) stepped in to make more money available for eligible citizens, Jobin said.  

“The state made available ten million per year out of the 15 million per year for the whole state,” Jobin said. “Once we received the state money we made changes to the eligibility restrictions. That went into effect in January of this year.”

Applications are prioritized based on the home’s proximity to groundwater reservoirs, with houses within zero to two years of travel time from leach field to surface water receiving the highest priority.

The entire process of replacing all of the systems in the county could take twenty years or more if the county fully committed to it today, Mcallister said.

“We’ve got real shit to deal with,” McAllister said.

Huntington High School Takes Steps to Fix Diversity Issue

By Alex Bakirdan and Isabelle Desilier

Huntington School District held a meeting with protestors on April 15th after the ban on the play Thoroughly Modern Millie in Huntington high school.

Huntington High School and Levittown High School’s showing of the play, Thoroughly Modern Millie, were protested April 9th and 13th by Asian American students, parents and community members due to racial undertones carried throughout the play, with the Huntington school district board banning the play days later.

During the meeting, superintendent James Polansky and art director Eric Reynolds spoke with Asian American protestors to discuss how to move on from the protest.

“I believe the steps for both sides to understand each other better took place,” Reynolds said, “We’re actively working to put the trust back into the high quality highly educational enriching experiences we always have and will continue to provide our students.”

A little under three dozen protestors gathered in front of the school speaking out against the racism in the play which emphasizes Chinese immigrant and citizen stereotypes. Some of the protestors held signs saying “Racism is not entertainment” and “say no to racist show.”

During the play, many attendees were seen getting up and leaving the play, while others commented on how rude they had been.

“There are apparently multiple perspectives on the theme and content of the play,” Polansky said. “All are committed to viewing this situation an educational opportunity – one that allows for open and productive discussion on any of the issues presented.   Unfortunately the timing of and manner in which the concerns were expressed casted a shadow on what should have been nothing short of a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone involved – directors, cast, crew and audience members included.”

The meeting had students and family members who attended the play praising the students and their performance.

“The plot of the musical is historically fallacious and unjustifiably depicts Asians in the most horrible light,” Notes sent to the to district superintendents, supervisors, and county executives members of the Long Island Chinese American Association group said. “Laughter at an ethnic group’s expense is not an art form; racism on stage is not entertainment.”

Many of the protestors had not spoken out about the actors or the school, but rather the play itself and what it represents.

“I think it’s very inappropriate,” Linda Zhang, mother of one of the students in the audience, said. “We need to raise more awareness. The school districts need more diversity training and cultural sensitivity.”

Zhang posted her son’s, Nick Lui, op-ed about the play to a public chat where Mimi Hu found the story.

“I think it’s better,” Hu said. “For it to have been a student, an eighth grader, to speak out against the play- because it’s not an adult attacking the students. It’s a second generation kid who wrote this, who spoke out about it.”

“It’s really about Chinese people or Asian people being taken and turned into stereotypes just to serve the purpose of laughs or jokes or some part of a story,” Jonathan Yuen, Asian American and Long Island resident, said, “It’s kind of like a holdover from past times.”

This has been changing slowly over time and movies like Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther have been cited as milestone movies for the industry with their casts being majority minority actors. Shang-Chi is just one example of this, a upcoming Marvel superhero movie with an Asian lead, an Asian director and an Asian writer.

“Hollywood is kind of starting to realize that diversity sells and that people want to see themselves on screen,” Yuen said, “And that there is a strength and a comfort in seeing people like you be out there and be represented.”  

Jobs In Personal Training Are On The Rise On Long Island

By Alex Bakirdan and Jacob Alvear

Inside an unassuming blue steel and gray brick building in Holbrook, metal weight sets clang together as they’re assembled, floors of concrete are being poured and a new set of stairs is being installed as Nicholas Page remodels the gym where he will run his new personal training business.

Page’s company, The Trainer Page, is a part of the increasing interest in fitness in New York state as the fitness trainer industry’s job industry grows at a rate seven percent faster than the state’s average job’s growth rate?, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

“[The demand] is definitely rising,” Page said. “Especially, if you look at in America the obesity rates are increasing.”

Nassau and Suffolk counties in particular have above-average opportunities in the field according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the area having a higher employment concentration and overall share of employment than the state average.

“People seek out personal training because they’re used to not seeing results,” Robert Woods, the owner of CrossFit 631 Red Woods and the Long Island Barbell Club said. “They’re used to going to a regular gym and its March, April, May, June and they look the same.”

After losing motivation to go the gym because he wasn’t seeing the results he wanted, Vincent Fittipaldi started going to a personal trainer. In Nassau County, 56.8 percent of adults are overweight or obese. In Suffolk County,  the number is 63.8 percent. Fittipaldi started training with Page hoping to lose weight and get in better shape.

“I lost 53 pounds after 5 months and went down six waist sizes,” Fittipaldi said.

At his CrossFit gym class sizes are deliberately limited to give more individual focus on clients Woods said. He also does some one-on-one personal training sessions.

The Trainer Page is getting a Styku 3D Body Scanner in the hopes of helping people visually see their results. Page said, his organization will be the only personal trainer company on Long Island to have the machine.

Just because some people are using personal trainers doesn’t mean that everyone is ditching their regular gym however. Michael Bellofatto, an experienced lifter who goes to LA Fitness in Centereach, prefers to train on his own.

“The reason I prefer to go to an actual gym over a personal fitness trainer is because I have been working out for over four years now and know hundreds of exercises so I like to get creative and workout my own way.” Bellofatto said.

Personal trainers can “get a little pricey” Bellofatto also added. While cheaper trainers on Long Island run $35-$45 an hour, prices can get incredibly steep with some trainers charging upwards of $200 an hour.

The price of fitness is a concern that Page acknowledged as well, one that he thinks causes people to sometimes elect not to choose a personal trainer.

“Money is involved, it does get expensive and these people who think they’re absolute experts want all this money for training so [people] go to these giant boot camps where they don’t feel comfortable.” Page said.

Despite prices, the amount of fitness trainers in New York is projected to increase by 19% from 2016 to 2026. “Personal training was definitely worth the cost,” Fittipaldi said. “I paid for all five months out of pocket.”

Long Island Community Members Join Forces To Eradicate Trash From Beaches

By Alex Bakirdan and Vaidik Trivedi

Over 50 miles from home battling bone-chilling winds on a Sunday morning, 52-year-old Joseph Consoli digs soda cans out of the white sand.

He drags a garbage bag with him, struggling to walk straight, and fills it with waste: plastic plates, soda cans, tissues, condoms.

“It’s like you can scan garbage in the sand now,” Consoli, said as he dug out a plastic bottle. “You will be surprised by what we find.”

The Riverhead Foundation For Marine Research And Preservation (RFMRP) held ‘Pick It Up,’ a coastal cleanup, on 17th March at Fire Island National Seashore. Four volunteers picked up more than 10 pounds of garbage that day.

Since it started in 1996, RFMRP has rescued and rehabilitated more than 3,900 marine creatures throughout Long Island.

A part of ‘The Pick It Up Initiative To Eradicate Debris From Long Island Beaches,’ the beach cleanup initiative was started in 2016 by The Riverhead Foundation For Marine Research And Preservation. More than 1,300 volunteers like Consoli collect trash along the coastal line to preserve local wildlife.

“Eight out of ten times, you are going to end up digging garbage on your treasure hunt on the beach,” Consoli, said.

Every first Saturday of the month, no matter the weather, a few volunteers get together to collect garbage that poses a threat to the marine ecosystem, turtles and sea lions. In the past two years, the “Pick it Up” initiative saved almost 700 sea turtles on the island, Nicole Valenti Education & Volunteer Coordinator at Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation said.

“The aim of the initiative is to help eradicate marine debris from some of our local coastal areas,” Valenti said. “In the last three years we have averaged about 4,000 pounds of trash collected each year.”

Marine debris poses a huge danger to the environment. Each year, 100,000 marine creatures die from plastic ingestion or entanglement according to the Ocean Crusader Organization.

“Seabirds (like cormorants) are often found with plastic in their stomachs because the plastic adsorbs the smells of the ocean,” Nick Wehner, Director of Open Initiatives at Open Communications for The Ocean, said. “When the plastic bits smell like fish, critters tend to think ‘if it smells like a fish, it must be a fish,’ and they eat it.”

Microplastics have even started to appear in the seafood that humans eat, as a study published in Environmental Pollution found that both mussels and oysters had a significant amount in their systems too. The study was unable to estimate potential risks to human health thus far.

“We are the only organization that is allowed on Long Island to rescue, relocate and rehabilitate marine animals,” Jonathan Yankus, 15, a member of the RFMRP said.

He and his mother managed to pick up 260 pounds of garbage along with clocking in 780 hours of beach cleanup last year alone.

“We are doing a lot of wrong with this planet,” Yankus, said. “If everyone does just a little bit [disposing of garbage] each day, then we might be able to live on this plane a bit longer.”

Depending on how many volunteers shown up, RFMRP members invest upto two hours into beach cleanup despite harsh weather conditions.  

“We feel like superheros after filling bags with garbage,” Consoli said while struggling to walk in 22 mph cold winds. “I feel satisfied after watching the beach clean for other people to use.”

RFMRP urges community members to join the ‘Pick It Up,’ initiative to clean the five most garbage prone beaches on Long Island.

“I think it really brings a lot of community members together in just trying to help create something better for our beaches,” Valenti said. “We live on Long Island we are an island, we are surrounded by water and so I think everyone really likes to enjoy the beach and nobody wants to go to the beach if it’s covered in garbage.”

In October 2018, the Trump Administration passed the ‘Save Our Seas Act,’ which will help confront the marine debris crisis by granting more funds to assist with marine cleanup and reauthorizing Marine Debris Programs through 2022.

Libraries on Long Island seek certified ‘green’ status

By Zoya Naqvi and Alex Bakirdan

Eight public libraries are close to to achieving Green Business Certification after the Lindenhurst Memorial Library became the first on Long Island and third in the state to be certified.

The certification, which is given by Green Business Partnership, is a way for libraries to reduce their environmental impact in the community. During the first phase of the two-part program, libraries focus on becoming sustainable in all aspects from recycling books to adding a garden.

“People want to go to businesses and places that are more sustainable,” Ethan Kravitz, director of membership at Green Business Partnership, said.

To become certified, each library must undergo strict changes in seven different categories — commitment, energy, waste and recycling, green purchasing, transportation, land use, and water. The nonprofit monitors their progress using an online dashboard.

Within one year, the Lindenhurst library board recycled furniture and 40,000 books, reduced electricity use by 30 percent, cut down 60 percent of plastic and cardboard waste, and prevented pollution by carpooling or walking to work.

“It’s not unique to them [libraries] that they’re recycling books, but now they have to say how many and how often,” Roger Reyes, assistant director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, said. “Other things they weren’t doing before are now put on paper and indoctrinating how they do certain things.”

Over the past few years, the words “green marketing” lead to more than a million hits on Google, according to the International Federation of Library Associations

The Suffolk Cooperative Library System runs the second part of the program, focused on improving social services like accepting passport applications and providing free internet connections. Throughout March, staff members from Lindenhurst will host events that educate residents about environmental friendly changes.

The events cover a range of topics, from fixing leaky faucets that waste water to cutting down the emission of greenhouse gasses by avoiding plastic-packaged meat. They will also create a prom pop-up shop where teens can get recycled suits and dresses for free.

“We’re going to do discussions that give people ways where they can reduce their carbon footprint in the community,” Lisa Kropp, Lindenhurst library director, said. “It’s like this trickle effect of more and more people getting involved.”

For some libraries, completing social goals depends on their size and location.

Shelter Island Public Library, one of the eight volunteers, has nine full-time employees and serves a community of 2,500 people, whereas Brentwood Public Library has 90 full-time employees and serves a community of 100,000.

“It’s not one size fits all,” Reyes said. “Some of them can do one thing better than the others, but over the years you work together to get those things done.”

The South Huntington Public Library has created a strict environmental policy to ban staff from using paper, plastic utensils, cleaning products, disposable cups and paper.

For libraries, sustainability is threefold, Janet Scherer, Director of South Huntington, said.

“It [the policy] includes the environmental piece, but we also strive to be socially equitable and economically sound,” Scherer said.

Suffolk County Community College Plans to Build New Environmental STEM Center

By Alex Bakirdan and Pedro Rodrigues

Suffolk County Community College (SCCC), the largest community college in the SUNY system, is planning a new clean energy STEM Center on its Ammerman Campus in the spring of 2019.

SCCC won one million dollars for their clean energy initiatives in 2018 and look to put it toward their new STEM Center. Along with the new energy center, SCCC is looking to implement a curriculum for a new sustainability program.

“Now a lot of our sustainability is more like the administration side of things and we don’t have any classes along with what we are doing. With the new renewable energy and STEM Center we are developing a curriculum to go along with it,” Melanie Morris said, the Assistant Director of Sustainability at Suffolk County College Said.

So far, SCCC has implemented 12 vehicle charging stations on its Ammerman Campus that are free of cost for students.

“We are looking to install eight more on each campus, and looking for different financial opportunity for those,” Morris said.

SCCC students aren’t necessarily excited about the installations however. “I’m pretty sure there’s a negligible amount of people in America, let alone college students that have rechargeable cars.” Kevin Okula a student at SCCC said, “To install them now when the technology isn’t as cheap as it will be in the future doesn’t seem feasible.”

Since 2015, SCCC has saved more than three million dollars in energy savings, according to the community college sustainability website. The college hopes to reach four million dollars in savings by the end of 2019.

During the 2019 SUNY State of the University Address on January 31st, Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson announced SUNY is launching a Green Revolving Fund in 2019 in an effort to increase SUNY universities’ sustainability.

The fund will “help campuses finance investments in energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy with loans to be repaid by the energy cost savings,” Johnson said.

SUNY is taking these actions to reduce operating costs and comply with Executive Order 88, issued by Governor Cuomo in 2012. It mandated energy efficiency of all state owned and managed buildings must be improved by 20 percent by 2020.

SUNY announced they will use the Green Revolving Fund to remodel old buildings to improve their environmental rating. “We also intend to retrofit our existing buildings, with SUNY Oneonta blazing the trail with its zero-net carbon renovation of its Ford Hall Residence,” Johnson said.

SCCC hopes to be a part of SUNY’s Green Revolving Fund and the college “just had a meeting about [the Green Revolving Fund] last week,” Morris said.

“We are definitely looking to get involved,” Morris said.”We are always looking for new  commitments, new partnerships and news ways to kind of get to those goals.”

Other SUNY schools like Farmingdale have also been tackling energy consumption for a while already. Farmingdale’s solar carport which was built in 2013 saved the university $6,500 dollars in the first 12 weeks of operation.

Students like Nicholas Stone, a business major at Farmingdale State College, view these efforts as important. “ The new generation has to find new ways of  improving the environment. We cannot continue to let the earth rot ,” Stone said.

By 2020, SUNY’s goal is to cut non-renewable energy consumption by 30% but only time will tell if SUNY can reach that goal.