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Health Department: Lower PFC levels detected in Cottage Grove, east-metro residents

A declining presence of perfluorochemicals has been measured in citizens of Cottage Grove and other east-metro communities as officials work to reduce the exposure of drinking water to the manufactured chemicals, a state project has shown.

The Minnesota Department of Health said Tuesday that a biomonitoring pilot project showed a decline in PFC blood levels in a sampling of citizens whose communities decades ago were polluted with 3M waste that contained PFCs.

The Health Department project tested the blood of 164 people from Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo and Oakdale and compared the PFCs levels to similar tests conducted in 2008.

PFC levels exceeding so-called "health-based exposure limits" had been found in drinking water in those three communities. As remediation has occurred in the years since, three types of PFCs saw substantial declines, the Health Department reported: Individual levels of PFOS dropped 26 percent; PFOA levels were down 21 percent, PFHS 13 percent.

State officials and 3M have worked on PFC remediation efforts in recent years. Carbon filtration units were installed at Oakdale's water treatment plant. Additionally, roughly 290 homes with private wells in areas affected by the PFC contamination were either added to city water service or given carbon filtration devices. The Health Department said it continues to test wells to be sure that water levels are below the health-based exposure limits.

"The results we're seeing in the reduction of PFCs in blood levels in the east metro are a clear testament to what can be accomplished with collaboration among state agencies, local government, business and citizens," Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger said in a statement. "The interventions put in place to lower PFC levels in drinking water in these communities are working and reducing people's exposures. While these results are encouraging, we would like to see the levels continue to decline. We expect that will occur."

The Health Department planned a conference call to further discuss the results.

Also, a public meeting is planned for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12 in Oakdale to review the findings. An open house will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., followed by a Health Department presentation from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meeting will be at Skyview Elementary School, 1100 Heron Ave. N.

Check back for updates to this story.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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