22 Minnesota communities impacted by new PFAS drinking water limits

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the first-ever nationwide standard for PFAS chemicals in the country’s drinking water. It’s a move that the White House says will save tens of thousands of lives.

At least 22 communities throughout Minnesota have been flagged by the health department as impacted under the new federal guidelines for PFAS in drinking water. The affected water systems serve about 300,000 Minnesota residents.

The family of Amara Strande understands the true cost of PFAS pollution in drinking water.

"Emotionally, it’s been a ripping of my heart," said her father, Michael Strande. "So many surgeries that she had to endure… was simply heartbreaking."

It’s been nearly one year since Amara died from cancer after advocating against the harmful effects of PFAS chemicals. The family has since taken on the torch of advocating for safer drinking water.

"I am, of course, scared for my health," said Amara’s sister, Nora. "Will I develop cancer?"

PFAS chemicals have been used to manufacture household items, from non-stick cookware to carpeting and waterproof clothing.

"For years, Minnesotans have been sounding the alarm on PFAS, and it felt like we were alone in this fight. But this decision from the federal government feels like vindication," said Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL-Minneapolis).

The East Metro has a long history of PFAS contamination after manufacturer 3M dumped PFAS waste years ago.

Meanwhile, state health officials have been testing community water systems across the state.

"We have one of the finest sets of data in the whole nation in terms of what is the status of our public water supply. So because we know that we already know who's going to exceed it and who's not going to exceed it," said Sandeep Burman, manager of the drinking water program at the Minnesota Department of Health.

The federal government also announced $1 billion in funding to help states meet the new PFAS standards. Minnesota is slated to get $15 million – however, state health officials concede the funding already dedicated to this effort is not enough.

For Nora Strande, who has been deeply affected by the imprint of PFAS contaminations, she insists there’s more work to be done to make sure the drinking water in Minnesota is safe for everyone.

"This is not the end of this fight," Nora said. "There’s still so much more to do."