Wisconsin Grants Our Petition for Regulating 26 PFAS Compounds!
CSWAB is pleased to report that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has granted our petition to establish drinking water Health Advisory Levels for a list of 26 PFAS that have been detected in or pose a threat to the State’s groundwater – the source of drinking water for more than two-thirds of its residents.
“The department has reviewed (CSWAB’s) recent petition, along with other PFAS compounds detected in Wisconsin…and has added all of them to the list maintained by the department under Chapter 160 Wis. Stats., thereby granting your petition,” Steve Elmore, Director for the DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, wrote in his January 17 letter to CSWAB.
“One major source of PFAS contamination of groundwater in Wisconsin is firefighting foams that have been used by the Department of Defense for over 40 years for suppressing liquid fuel fires, fire-training exercises and other emergency fire response activities,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “Industrial sites like the Tyco/Johnson Controls facilities in Marinette, Wisconsin are sources of PFAS groundwater contamination that has spread from these sites, threatening nearby fisheries and affecting residential wells.”
“I’m pleased that the DNR has decided to look at a broader range of compounds beyond PFOA and PFOS in establishing PFAS Health Advisory Limits for Wisconsin. However, I am worried that the regulatory process is moving slower than the contamination is moving through our groundwater,” said Doug Oitzinger, a retired businessman and the former Mayor of the City of Marinette.
PFAS are a large group of man-made toxic chemicals used to make consumer products resistant to water, grease or stains. Research has shown probable links between PFAS exposure and cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
"The DNR’s decision is a good first step in acknowledging the statewide contamination issues with PFAS. Hopefully, other contaminated locations in the state will be addressed soon. The inclusion of more PFAS chemicals will be critical to first responder health concerns," said Vicki Quint, PFAS Coordinator, Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation.
The DNR said that it will also consider CSWAB’s request to regulate PFAS as a class of thousands of chemicals, similar to how PCBs and dioxins are regulated. CSWAB petitioned for a drinking water health advisory level for the “summed-total concentration” of PFAS but DNR cautioned that until the Department of Health Services reviews the available scientific information, it is unknown whether or not it is an appropriate approach.
“The reality is that human exposures are invariably a mixture of PFAS compounds and we need to address total exposure to all PFAS as opposed to the past focus on one substance in isolation,” said Olah added. “Approaching PFAS as a class for assessing exposure and health effects is the best way to protect public health.”
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