Read the full article by Lee Bergquist

“An emerging class of chemical compounds discovered at a Johnson Controls affiliate in northern Wisconsin has also been found at Wisconsin military sites, including the Air National Guard 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee.

Known as perfluorinated chemicals, the widely manufactured compounds are prompting heightened concerns nationally because of their potential impacts on human health.

federal draft report released in June found the chemicals present a greater public health risk than previously known.

The report said epidemiology studies suggest that the chemicals are associated with increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, thyroid disease, asthma, decreased fertility, some cancers and a decline in response to vaccines.

In Wisconsin, much of the concern stems from the chemicals when they are used to fight fires at military bases and industrial sites.

The chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, or PFOS, are used in fire-retardant foams and in products such as Teflon and rain wear.

The chemicals can seep into soil and pollute surface water and groundwater and potentially contaminate drinking water.

Records and email correspondence from the Department of Natural Resources show the compounds have been found in the soil and groundwater at sites of the 128th, as well as the 440th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve. The 440th moved to a base in North Carolina in 2007.

Also, PFOA and PFOS have been detected in ponds and sediments at the 128th.

According to the agency, the pair of chemicals have been found in concentrations above the current federal lifetime health advisory level for drinking water of 70 parts per trillion.

There is no sign, however, that they have infiltrated private wells, according to DNR records…

In addition, records show similar types of contamination have been found at Fort McCoy between Sparta and Tomah; at Volk Field at Camp Douglas in Juneau County and at Truax Field in Madison.

The City of Madison detected perfluorinated compounds in 2017 in one well near Truax, but below the health advisory of 70 parts per trillion…

At a Tyco Fire Products manufacturing plant in Marinette, the company has been providing drinking water systems to residents whose private wells are polluted. The company is also evaluating strategies to remove the chemicals from ditches leading to Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

Tyco, a unit of Johnson Controls in Glendale, is monitoring the extent of groundwater contamination. In late 2017, the company began investigating how chemicals had strayed from the property and how best to contain the pollutants.

‘The Tyco-Marinette situation pointed out that this emerging … issue was something that had to be addressed’ by multiple divisions within the agency, Dick said.

That prompted officials to organize an internal work group to try to determine the scope of the problem in Wisconsin and how best to proceed.

Laura OIah is executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, a group that was organized over long-standing pollution problems at the former Badger Army Ammunition Center in Sauk County.

She praised the DNR for trying to better understand the problem but called on the agency to do more.”