Read the full article by Nathan O’Neal (FOX 9)

(FOX 9) – For Steve Johnson, a sip of water from the tap seems almost a luxury after the private well on his East Metro property was found to have elevated levels of ‘forever chemicals.’

For months, Johnson relied on cases of bottled water until he recently had a specialized filtration system installed, which is designed to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Since the 1940s, PFAS compounds have been used to manufacture household items – from nonstick cookware to carpeting to waterproof clothing and more. Man-made chemicals do not break down over time which is why they’re often called ‘forever chemicals.’ The compounds have been linked to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cancer.  

The ‘forever chemicals’ seeping into Johnson’s property likely come from Minnesota’s largest known PFAS contamination after manufacturer 3M illegally dumped PFAS waste in the East Metro. It contaminated the drinking water of more than 170,000 people and led to the state’s largest ever environmental lawsuit, which resulted in an $850 million settlement

‘Clean water should be a right that everyone has access to, and here in the East Metro, we have a lot of contaminated groundwater,’ Johnson said. ‘We’re not the only people in Minnesota that are dealing with water problems.’

A statewide testing initiative 

The Minnesota Department of Health is currently conducting a massive statewide initiative to collect, test and monitor drinking water from every single community water system in the state. 

‘Our goal is to sample all community public water systems in the State of Minnesota… those towns, cities that distribute water to their customers,’ said Steve Robertson, who serves as a supervisor in the drinking water protection section at the Minnesota Department of Health. 

‘The purpose of that is to try to, with that information, be able to protect human health exposure that might take place through drinking water,’ Robertson said.

So far, almost two-thirds of the state’s nearly 960 community water systems have been sampled. About 1% of those tested systems have exceeded health-based standards. 

‘Our results are indicating that while we are seeing PFAS compounds, by and large, though at very low levels as I indicated earlier, there’s just a small percentage of systems that have had results indicate there’s any kind of health-based concern,’ Robertson added. 

The department also launched an online dashboard to relay confirmed results to the public.” …