Read the full article by Lee Bergquist

“The Department of Natural Resources is asking a state health agency to study the potential impacts of a group of unregulated contaminants as a prelude to setting safe limits in groundwater.

The agency on Wednesday asked the Department of Health Services to review 40 chemical compounds to recommend levels that would protect human health…

In March 2018, the agency asked Health Services to evaluate 27 other chemical compounds…

Many of the chemicals are known as perfluorinated chemicals, sometimes dubbed ‘forever chemicals,’ because they do not break down easily in the environment.

The compounds have been widely used for years and have properties that keep food from sticking to pans; allow carpets to resist stains; and in firefighting, especially at military installations, where they are used to spread fire-retardant foams.

Epidemiology studies cited in a federal report released last year suggest that the chemicals can lead to increased risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, thyroid disease, asthma, decreased fertility, some cancers and a decline in response to vaccines.

Currently, many can be regulated as hazardous pollutants, which can require known polluters to clean up contaminants.

Also on Wednesday, the DNR said it was hiring a consulting firm to help pinpoint the source of contamination of perfluorinated chemicals affecting two municipal wells in Madison. 

The agency plans to spend $30,000 assessing former industrial and commercial activities near the wells on the city’s west and northeast sides. 

‘Everyone deserves clean and safe drinking water, regardless of whether it comes from a municipal source or a private drinking well,’ DNR Secretary Preston Cole said in a statement…

Earlier this week, the DNR said it would be monitoring several rivers and streams in the state this summer to assess contamination levels by taking fish and water samples.

They are also monitoring the situation in Madison and overseeing the cleanup by Tyco Fire products of perfluorinated chemicals in Marinette.

Tyco, a unit of Johnson Controls International, is providing drinking water to affected residents and is offering to pay to connect residents with polluted wells to Marinette’s municipal water system. No decision has been made by local authorities…

At a legislative hearing last week, Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, complained about the pace of activity by Health Services. Affected residents have “waited long enough for these standards to be developed,” he said. 

He is a co-sponsor of a bill that would regulate the two most prominent of the pollutants — perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS. 

Business groups, including Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said that while safe drinking water is imperative, Wisconsin should regulate the chemicals in conjunction with the federal government, which is in the process of setting standards. 

Other states have already begun to set limits for some of the chemicals…”