Read the full article by Kirsti Marohn (MPR News)

“A big part of what drew Lee Donahue to move to the Town of Campbell, Wisconsin, nearly two decades ago was water.

Water surrounds this community on French Island, just north of La Crosse. The island is encircled by the Mississippi River on one side, and the Black River on the other.

‘The reason people live here is the connection with nature,’ Donahue said. ‘Everybody is a fisherman. Everybody is recreational, whether it’s a canoe, a kayak, a photographer.’

But these days, water is also a major source of worry for Donahue, who’s the town supervisor for health, education and welfare.

For more than a year, residents of the Town of Campbell have been using bottled water for drinking, cooking, even brushing their teeth. That’s because many private wells on French Island have high levels of PFAS that make the water unsafe to drink.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large class of human-made chemicals known for their tendency not to break down in the environment. They’re found in a wide variety of products, including nonstick cookware, carpet, clothing and some firefighting foam. 

Donahue said residents of the Town of Campbell are angry and frustrated. Some drank their well water for decades, not knowing about the contamination. Long-term exposure to PFAS is linked to adverse health effects such as kidney and thyroid disease, and cancer.

‘It weighs so heavily on your mind,’ Donahue said. ‘You now have something in your body you can’t get out, and you don’t know what your health response is going to be. Are you going to have liver cancer? Are you going to have brain cancer? Are your 21-year-old children going to have testicular cancer? You don’t know.’

Officials believe the source of the contamination is the La Crosse Regional Airport, where foam containing PFAS was used for training and to put out fires from plane crashes.” …