Recently, German delegates met with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) staff to gain insight into Minnesota’s experience with PFAS contamination and cleanup in the east metropolitan area.
Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also referred to as PFCs, are a family of synthetic chemicals, initially developed by the 3M Company. These chemicals have been used since the 1940s to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water.
Common uses include nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, components of firefighting foam, industrial applications, coatings for packaging such as milk cartons, cosmetic additives, and other personal products.
Gary Krueger, supervisor of the MPCA's East Metro Unit, gave an overview of the Minnesota’s history of PFAS from a state perspective. He along with Assistant Commissioner Kirk Koudelka also gave an overview of agreements that have been made with the 3M Company to address drinking water contamination in southern Washington County. Other topics discussed included cleanup at PFAS disposal sites, fate and transport of PFAS chemicals in the east metro area, and surface water data collection and research that the MPCA has performed.
The agency's investigation into this family of chemicals began in 2002, when 3M informed the MPCA about contamination at its Cottage Grove plant. Subsequently, PFCs were found to have contaminated drinking water supplies in parts of the eastern Twin Cities metro area. From the 1950s through the early 1970s, 3M disposed of wastes from PFC manufacturing in dump sites in Oakdale and Woodbury, at the 3M manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove, and at a Washington County landfill. The contamination was traced to these four disposal sites
3M has phased out manufacture of some PFCs, but there are currently other manufacturers of this class of chemicals around the world. We now know “It’s not just a Minnesota problem,” says Krueger.
As part of their week-long tour, the German delegation also met with officials from New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, city officials from Oakdale, and representatives from 3M.
For more information
- 3M Settlement website
- MPCA Perfluorochemicals webpages
- Minn. Department of Health PFAS webpages