Apr 04, 2019

Minnesota Tightens Rules on Chemical in Drinking Water

In Minnesota, officials are adjusting levels for chemicals found in drinking water in the Twin Cities metro area

In Minnesota, officials are adjusting levels for chemicals found in drinking water in the Twin Cities metro area
In Minnesota, officials are adjusting levels for chemicals found in drinking water in the Twin Cities metro area.

Minnesota health officials are adjusting pollutants levels found in drinking water supplies based on scientific data.

According to MPR News, the chemicals are part of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

The Minnesota Department of Health lowered the health-based advisory values for perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, to 15 ppt. This is lower from the previous level of 27 ppt which was set two years ago. According to MPR News, the levels are used to determine if the water, whether it be from public systems or private wells, is safe to drink.

Officials use scientific research to set advisory values for chemicals that are likely to pose little or no risk to human health. According to MPR News, the state Pollution Control Agency uses the values to see if cities and other public water suppliers must treat its drinking water or not.

The change's impact is minor, but will allow health officials to evaluate the potential health risks of exposure to the chemicals, manager of environmental surveillance and assessment at the state health department Jim Kelly said.

"It's a tweak, it's a slight adjustment, in our minds," Kelly said. "That's really a very small difference when you're talking about low, low parts per trillion."

According to MPR News, the health department also set a value for perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, or PFHxS, at 47 ppt for the first time. "There has not been enough scientific data available to set a value for PFHxS," Kelly said. "So the health department was using the PFOS value of 27 ppt as a substitute."

Two decades ago, studies found PFAS were showing up around the globe; for example, in water, soil, wildlife and in humans. According to MPR News, scientists are currently studying the health effects of the chemicals. However, research linked longterm exposure to PFAS to health problems including some cancers, thyroid disease and infertility. 

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