Improved water quality lowers PFC levels in East Metro residents, says Minnesota health department

Jan. 15, 2016

Perfluorochemicals are used to make products that resist stains, grease, water and heat.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Jan. 12, 2016 — Efforts to reduce levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in drinking water in the East Metro area of Minneapolis-St Paul have been successful, the Minnesota Department of Health said in a press release this week.

Blood samples from long-time East Metro residents show that PFC levels are continuing to fall, a decade after steps were taken to reduce PFCs in the area’s drinking water to levels that pose no health risk, noted the release.

PFCs are used to make products that resist stains, grease, water and heat. In the mid-2000s, some public and private drinking water sources in the East Metro — a suburban area east of St. Paul — were found to be polluted with the chemicals, stated the release. The pollution came from old dumps that leached the chemicals into groundwater.

To combat the problem, filtration systems were installed in municipal and private wells in 2006, and some private well owners were connected to city water, reported the release. These interventions reduced PFC levels in drinking water to below health-based limits.

According to an ongoing monitoring project, PFC levels in people who moved to Oakdale, one of the impacted East Metro communities, after 2006 are similar to levels seen elsewhere in the United States, shared the release.

Researchers measured blood levels of eight different PFCs among 149 long-term residents of Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove (who were exposed to PFCs in drinking water before the intervention and who participated in past studies) and 156 new Oakdale residents who moved to the area after the intervention.

“Levels in long-time residents went down by 35 percent to 60 percent from what they were in 2008,” said Jessica Nelson, the lead investigator on the project, in the release. “While still above average U.S. levels, they are getting closer. It’s certainly good news that levels in long-term residents continue to drop as we’d expect them to, and that newer residents don’t appear to have unusual exposures to PFCs.”

Low blood levels of PFCs like those in new Oakdale residents and the U.S. population are likely due to ongoing contact with PFCs in products and foods, the researchers said in the release.

You can find the entire release here.

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