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DNR Confirms PFAS-Containing Foam Found in Peshtigo Area Waterways

Contact(s): Darsi Foss, DNR Environmental Management Division Administrator, 608-267-6713, darsi.foss@wisconsin.gov
October 30, 2019 at 3:43:26 pm

Green Bay, Wis. - The Department of Natural Resources confirms the presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the Peshtigo River and in a nearby culvert.

Residents contacted the DNR in September with concerns after seeing foam on the Peshtigo River below the dam in the city of Peshtigo and foam in a nearby culvert.

Foam observed on state waterways and lakes may or may not contain PFAS. Foam frequently collects on the surface of rivers and lakes due to the buildup of organic compounds from decaying plant or algal material, where wind and wave action pushes them to the shore.

The DNR confirmed the reports and dispatched a DNR-hired contractor to sample the foam and surface water for PFAS contamination in these two areas. Results are summarized below.

Date Collected

Location

Substance Sampled

Sample Depth

PFOA (ppt)

PFOS (ppt)

9/18/2019

Below City of Peshtigo Dam

Water

Surface

2.1

6.2

9/18/2019

Below City of Peshtigo Dam

Foam

N/A

230

17,000*

9/18/2019

Leaf/Krause Roadside Ditch

Water

Surface

2.3

No Detect

9/18/2019

Leaf/Krause Roadside Ditch

Foam

N/A

990

17,000*

*Values are approximations. For additional information, please see the lab report.

Seventeen other PFAS contaminants were also discovered during the testing. Those results may be found here.

The DNR developed a foam response plan the public can use if they see foam on area rivers and lakes. The department will evaluate the information provided by the public and determine whether a sampling response is warranted.

The DNR is also responding to foam siting in areas where there is known or suspected PFAS contamination. The department will identify PFAS compounds as well as the sources of PFAS which may be causing the foam.

DNR will evaluate information provided by the public and determine whether a sampling response is warranted. The DNR is also responding to foam events in areas where there is known or suspected PFAS contamination and is working closely with the Department of Health Services (DHS) and local health officials to ensure that the public stays informed of these situations when they develop. Public health information concerning PFAS foam and contaminated surface water is available on the department's web site.

The DNR, in consultation with Department of Health Services (DHS), is developing groundwater, surface water and public drinking water standards for PFAS. DHS provided the DNR with recommendations for groundwater standards in June. The DNR will continue to work closely with DHS and local health officials to ensure that the public stays informed of these situations when they develop.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

PFAS can persist in the environment and the human body for long periods of time. Recent scientific findings indicate that exposure to certain PFAS may have harmful health effects in people. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to some PFAS substances above certain levels may increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as thyroid disease, low birthweights and cancer.



Last Revised: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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