June 17, 2024

MN Department of Health Surveys of East Metro PFC Exposure

The Minnesota Department of Health has been studying East Metro residents’ exposure to perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in a Biomonitoring Project. Drinking water was the major source of exposure to the chemical for most people.

Water in SinkGroundwater contamination caused the problem. The first East Metro PFC Biomonitoring Project studied the levels of PFCs in the blood of 196 adults in 2008. The people lived in Oakdale, Lake Elmo, and Cottage Grove. A follow-up study in 2010 to 2011 measured the levels to see if they changed. A presentation will be given to residents on May 15, 2013, along with updates on water testing and the MDH study of PFCs in home-grown produce.

The study found that participants who drank unfiltered water for more years had higher PFC blood levels. The more water a person drank, the higher their PFC levels. Efforts to reduce exposure brought down blood levels between 2008 and 2010. Concentrations in drinking water are stable or declining. On average, levels of PFCs have gone down by 26%.

Perflurochemicals are manmade chemicals used to make products that resist oil, stains, grease, and water. They are used in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpets and coatings on some food packaging. The compounds are very stable and travel through soil, entering groundwater. MDH has identified sites in the state where PFCs were released into the environment.

Studies in animals have found that PFC exposure changes liver and thyroid function, increases tumors in certain organs, and causes reproductive problems. While comparing researching findings in animals to human health can be difficult, human studies have been conducted and have had mixed results. Unfortunately, most of the studies did not involve women and none involved children. The Minnesota Department of Health has established drinking water criteria for these chemicals. They range from 0.3 micrograms per liter for PFOA to 7 micrograms per liter for PFBA.

To reduce exposure to PFCs, install filters on your water supply. Activated carbon and reverse osmosis membranes are effective. Since the compounds can accrue in fish, health officials recommend that you follow safe eating guidelines for certain species. In Minnesota, pregnant women should not eat walleye larger than 20 inches, northern pike longer than 30 inches, and muskellunge, or muskies. Other species should be limited to 1 meal per month or week and restrictions are different for men and nonpregnant women; see the chart for further information.

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