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MDH defends HBV for PFBA

It was a little more than a year ago when the auditorium in Woodbury Lutheran Church was filled to the brim with residents concerned about their drinking water. The news that state health officials had measured low levels of a chemical once manufactured by 3M in Woodbury's municipal wells, was still new.

On Monday local and state officials met in the church auditorium for the first time since February 2007 to update residents on the latest information to come out on the issue: the levels of perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) measured in Woodbury water pose little or no risk to human health, even if consumed over a lifetime.

That assertion was solidified by the Minnesota Department of Health's announcement last week that it had established a health based value for PFBA at 7 parts per billion. Concentration of the chemical in Woodbury municipal wells was measured at an average of .25 ppb.

"We think it's a scientifically defensive number," said John Linc Stine, who directs the environmental health division for the MDH. "

Still, the numbers, along with numerous studies the department of health has evaluated over the last year, have not been enough to convince some residents their water is safe to drink.

During a question and answer session at Monday's public meeting Woodbury resident Paul Esch said he was concerned about 3M's role in the studies conducted that concluded the concentration of PFBA found in Woodbury water does not pose an immediate or long term health risk.

"How can we trust studies that are funded by 3M when 3M has such a vested interest in this?" Esch said.

Health Department toxicologist Dr. Rita Messing said the MDH evaluated hundreds of studies from different sources done over the last decade to determine the health based value of PFC's found in wells throughout the east metro area.

"We have great confidence in our ability to evaluate data and health risks for PFOS and PFOA," Messing said. "And for PFBA we also have a lot of data and it is not all 3M data."

Much of that data, Messing said, was gathered from several sources, including studies performed by the Environmental Protection Agency and internationally respected researchers.

What's next?

Health Department officials said they will continue to monitor Woodbury municipal wells on a quarterly basis. They also said results of a Legislature-mandated study on point-of-use water filter would be revealed in May. The results will recommend the water filters that best eliminate PFBA.

For more information on the ongoing water filter study go to: