State launches a control panel showing the results of PFAS monitoring for drinking water

News release
June 7, 2022

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The website shows the results of state tests of public water systems; The latest data show that most systems do not have PFAS at or above levels of concern

Minnesota residents who receive drinking water from the community’s public water system will now be able to find out if the water in their system has some level of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through an interactive online dashboard unveiled today by the Department of Health. Minnesota (MDH).

According to the results of nationwide testing reflected in the new scoreboard, most of the state’s community water systems have no or no PFAS findings, or levels that are below current levels of health concern. Health officials say testing and a dashboard across the country will provide basic information to help communities manage any changes in the emergence of PFAS or understanding health risks in the future.

MDH launched a project in 2021 to test PFAS in public water systems across the country. The dashboard presents the current state of this project. Testing and monitoring will continue until 2022. Minnesota joins other states, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, that have tested drinking water nationwide for PFAS. MDH prioritizes sampling in systems that are most vulnerable to PFAS contamination in order to address the highest potential public health risks first.

“With this new tool, Minnesota residents will be able to see for themselves whether PFAS is a concern for the health of their communities and their families,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Ian Malcolm. “Our nationwide tests and dashboards are just two examples of how Minnesota continues to be a national leader in providing safe drinking water.

PFAS are extremely stable and do not degrade in the environment. Higher levels of PFAS exposure are associated with a wide range of effects on human health. These include higher cholesterol, changes in liver function, reduced immune response, thyroid disease and, in the case of PFOA, an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer.

“MDH conducts robust tests to ensure that drinking water complies with PFAS government guidelines,” said Sandip Berman, MDH’s Drinking Water Protection Section Manager. “PFAS is a topic of growing national interest and Minnesota has taken a proactive approach to tackling PFAS in our communities and our environment. PFAS science and standards will undoubtedly continue to evolve at the federal and state levels, and as we learn more, we will update PFAS guidelines and work with systems to ensure that drinking water remains safe. The dashboard will help us and our community partners manage PFAS in drinking water now and in the future.

Nationwide testing efforts have completed an assessment of 401 of the state’s approximately 900 public systems, and the estimated 401 systems serve about 75 percent of Minnesota residents who receive drinking water from such systems. Nearly two-thirds of the systems tested so far had PFAS at some level, but most had PFAS below current Minnesota health values ​​in drinking water. Of those systems that have completed testing, only one currently exceeds the MDH reference values. Of those still undergoing follow-up testing, about 1% are expected to have PFAS at levels above current national health guidelines. Community water systems with elevated PFAS levels above the health guidance levels may take action to reduce PFAS levels, such as purification or reduced pumping from contaminated wells.

“Some PFASs are usually found at low levels in drinking water, but elevated PFASs in drinking water outside communities with known sites of contamination are rare,” said Jane de Lambert, MDH’s environmental scientist.

PFAS are a family of artificial chemicals that have been used for decades to make products resistant to heat, oil, stains, grease and water. Since 2002, MDH has partnered with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to investigate the PFAS in Minnesota. This work began with research into drinking water near the 3M Cottage Grove plant and related legacy landfills in Washington County. The state agencies released the Minnesota PFAS plan in February 2021, which outlines a strategic approach and action to address PFAS in the state. The US Environmental Protection Agency recently published a PFAS strategic roadmap for PFAS’s national environmental management strategies. This roadmap includes plans to establish new federal standards for PFAS in drinking water. New federal standards could trigger a review of Minnesota standards.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH communications

[email protected]

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