Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

The Social Discovery of a Class of Emerging Contaminants

Bemidji, Minnesota

Suspected contamination source: firefighting foam used at Bemidji Regional Airport (MPCA, 2011)

In 2008 Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conducted a survey of fire departments around the state to identify possible locations where PFAS-containing firefighting foam (AFFF) had been repeatedly used for training or firefighting purposes. Bemidji was identified as one of those locations where nearby water wells were at risk of contamination. In 2009, testing of municipal water systems detected PFASs in low concentration.

The Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) testing by the EPA showed concentrations of PFASs increasing. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducted testing from 2015 to 2016 and found two public wells were above the EPA’s health advisory level of 70ppt for both PFOA/PFOS.

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently lowered their PFAS drinking water criteria, which as of May 2017 is:

  • 35 ppt for PFOA
  • 27 ppt for PFOS

These values are lower than the EPAs combined 70 ppt PFOA/PFOS.

Additional Resources

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in Minnesota

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) and Health

PFC-Containing Firefighting Foams and Their Use in Minnesota:
Survey and Sampling Activities, State Fiscal Year 2011
June 2011

Media Coverage:

Full citations are available on the second page of the full contamination site tracker. We ask for your additions, changes, questions and comments to be sent to pfasproject@gmail.com.

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