Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays
Toxic chemicals can concentrate in the aquatic environment and directly affect the ability of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and plants to survive and reproduce.
Toxic contaminants are man-made or naturally occurring substances that, when found in certain concentrations, can cause adverse ecosystem or human health effects. The use of pesticides, other industrial and household chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products can lead to toxic substances entering the environment, either being introduced to ground and surface waters through the waste stream, stormwater runoff, or through groundwater transport. Within the estuary system, toxic substances can be found in surface waters and groundwater, attached to sediments and soils, and in plants and animals. Toxic chemicals can concentrate in the aquatic environment and directly affect the ability of fish, shellfish, wildlife, and plants to survive and reproduce. Some toxic chemicals can accumulate in the tissues of edible fish and shellfish, making them dangerous to wildlife and unsuitable for unrestricted human consumption. Pesticides harm more than pests – many pesticides are carcinogens and exposure can affect child development, pets and wild animals.
Long Island’s legacy of agriculture and industry means that groundwater may contain toxic chemicals like DDT that were used in the past but are now banned. Additionally, new and emerging contaminants have become the focal point for Suffolk County and New York State as contaminants like PFOAs and 1,4-dioxane are increasingly found in groundwater and surface water systems. Additional research will be required to assess their impacts on water quality, fisheries, and seagrasses.
To prevent toxic contamination in the estuary, look for alternatives to toxic products, and be sure to properly dispose of all cleaners, personal care products, medications, and household hazardous waste. All towns in the Peconic Estuary Watershed hold designated S.T.O.P. (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) days. Please contact your local town hall for a list of S.T.O.P. dates.