MPCA Media Contact: Michael Rafferty, (651) 297-8294 MDH Media Contact: Tannie Eshenaur, (651) 215-0916 MPCA Technical Contact: Ingrid Verhagen, (651) 296-7266 MDH Technical Contact: Jim Kelly, (651) 215-0913 St. Paul, Minn. - The ground-water investigation continues for perfluorochemicals (PFCs) as four private wells in Lake Elmo test above the Minnesota Department of Health's (MDH's) criteria for long-term safe use. PFCs were detected in 41 of 110 wells sampled in April. Thirty-seven wells tested below the health-based criteria established by the MDH and 69 showed no presence of the chemicals. Residents of the four homes with PFCs above the health-based criteria have been advised to discontinue use of the water and are being supplied with bottled water by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The MPCA suspects that the Washington County Landfill is a source for PFCs. The agency will take the necessary response actions since this landfill is in the Closed Landfill Program. In March, the MPCA and the MDH tested for PFCs in 38 private wells and found eight wells contaminated above the health-based criteria in the western Lake Elmo area. The other wells showed low levels or no detection of PFCs. The MPCA will provide all 12 homes above the PFC health-based criteria with a granular activated carbon filter to reduce the contaminant levels. The other wells with PFC levels below the MDH criteria will be monitored on a regular basis. A total of 173 private wells have been sampled in Lake Elmo as part of this investigation, with 63 wells showing low levels of PFCs. Previous sampling has shown the presence of PFCs in the Oakdale municipal water supply as well as one private well in Oakdale below the health-based criteria. The MDH and the MPCA staff are closely examining the sample results to determine if a pattern exists based on well locations and depth. The full impact of the PFC contamination is not yet clear and additional well sampling in the area will be completed later this month. Reporter's Note:
A map showing the areas where private wells have been sampled can be found at the following link:
http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/sites/washington/lakeelmo/wellmap.pdf . Background:
Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) are in a family of manmade chemicals, PFCs, which have been used for decades to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water. Common uses include nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, components of fire-fighting foam and other industrial applications. Minnesota is one of the few states in the country where these chemicals were made. The 3M Company made PFCs at its Cottage Grove facility beginning in the 1940s and phased out the production of PFOS and PFOA by 2002. Wastes from the production process were placed in several local disposal sites, including Washington County Landfill and the 3M Oakdale Dump. PFCs are very stable chemicals that do not change or break down in the environment. Therefore, they may build up in soil, sediment or in other places. Some studies indicated PFCs easily enter ground water and move long distances. While there is only limited information about human health effects, animal studies indicate high concentrations of PFCs harm the liver and other organs. Developmental problems have been seen in the offspring of pregnant rats exposed to PFCs.