Water bottles given to 80 Washington Co. homes with contaminated water

- The Minnesota Department of Health is providing bottled water to 80 homes in Washington County after high amounts of two different types of man-made chemicals were detected in their well water. 

The wells contained levels of perfluorooctane sulfate (PFOS) or perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) that exceeded the new health advisory levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Residents of the affected homes will continue to receive bottled water until the state installs new filter systems for them.

The EPA set the new levels based on recent studies that showed exposure to perfluorochemicals (PFCs) at high levels may lead to an increased risk of developmental effects, some cancers, liver damage, thyroid effects or cholesterol changes.

“While we believe the immediate health risks for most people exposed to PFCs are low, the latest information from EPA indicates a risk for developing fetuses and infants,” Minnesota health commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a statement. “This additional information prompted us to take action now to reduce the risk of exposure from drinking water.”

According to MDH, the chemicals came from a 3M production plant in Cottage Grove. 3M says it manufactured and used PFC compounds in a variety of its products for several decades. But in the late 1990s, the company learned small amounts of the chemicals were found in the blood of the general population and began phasing out the product lines that used the chemicals in 2000.

3M says it has been working with federal and state regulators to address the environmental presence of the PFC compounds in the areas near their manufacturing plants. More details can be found on the company’s website.

MDH and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency say they are continuing to sample other wells within the affected area to see if they also have water with PFCs above the healthy limit and will issue additional drinking water advisories as needed. A community meeting about the issue will be held in the next few weeks.

More information about the drinking water advisories can be found here

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