Wisconsin Recommends Groundwater Standards for 18 PFAS Chemicals Communities Call on Legislature to Fund Statewide Testing of Public Water Supplies
WISCONSIN – Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger is pleased to report that state health officials have recommended new groundwater quality standards for 18 PFAS chemicals that are currently unregulated in Wisconsin. With these new health-based guidelines in hand, it now falls to the state legislature to secure resources for long-overdue testing of Wisconsin’s public drinking water systems.
With few exceptions, public water utilities across the state have resisted voluntary testing for PFAS primarily due to the added cost. However, this means some communities may have unsafe drinking water and not know it. To date, less than 100 of the 11,000 public drinking water systems in Wisconsin have been tested for PFAS.
The new health-based recommendations result from a successful petition
by CSWAB in 2018 requesting that the Wisconsin DNR set Health Advisory Levels for the summed-total concentration of all per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – including precursors – that pose a threat to groundwater. In January 2019, WDNR granted our petition
and added 26 PFAS compounds to its list of priority contaminants needing regulation.
This week, Wisconsin health officials recommended standards for 12 individual PFAS compounds and a combined enforcement standard of 20 parts per trillion for six PFAS compounds: NEtFOSE, NEtFOSAA, NEtFOSA, FOSA, as well as PFOA and PFOS. The Wisconsin Division of Health Services previously recommended a combined standard of 20 ppt for just PFOS and PFOA. Health officials said scientific evidence shows that the four additional compounds tend to transform into PFOA and PFOS in the environment and into PFOS in the human body.
Just last month, CSWAB and 33 environmental and public health organizations submitted a joint letter
to WDNR Secretary Preston Cole urging the agency to order public water systems in the state to test for PFAS. The organizations emphasized that widespread, comprehensive testing is the only way to know if drinking water in the state is contaminated with these chemicals.
PFAS are a very large group of toxic man-made chemicals that are very persistent and mobile in the environment, creating huge groundwater contaminant plumes that readily migrate miles from source areas. Two-thirds of Wisconsin residents rely on groundwater for their drinking water.
E12629 Weigand’s Bay South, Merrimac, WI 53561