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80 Washington County Homes Offered Bottled Water Due to Pollutants in Well Water

August 23, 2016 07:15 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health is offering bottled water to 80 Washington County homes after finding their well water has higher levels of man-made pollutants than recommended.

MDH officials say the water has perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA) levels that are above the new federal advisory levels.

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The two pollutants are in a category known as perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which can lead to a higher risk of developmental issues, certain cancers, liver damage, immune system problems, thyroid effects and cholesterol changes, according to the health department.

For most people, the risk is with long-term, lifetime exposure, but developing fetuses and infants can be at risk even during short-term exposure, the health department says.

The health department says water with PFC levels above the health advisory levels is safe for bathing, showering, washing clothes and cleaning but shouldn’t be used for drinking or cooking.

The MDH sent letters to the 80 homes this past week, saying impacted residents can receive bottled water until carbon filter systems can be installed in their homes.

Officials with health department and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency say they are continuing to sample nearby wells to determine the pollutant levels. They are expecting to sample 400-500 wells in the area over the coming months, and more drinking water advisories will be issued if necessary.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the 3M Company disposed of products containing these pollutants in a landfill and three dump sites in Washington County from the 1940s to the 1970s. Contaminated groundwater was first found in the area in 2002.

See a map of the potentially-affected areas here.

Credits

Jennie Lissarrague & Tom Durian

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