Nov 12, 2019

Wisconsin Town Keeps Water Well Active Despite PFAS Contamination

Recent tests of wells in Rhinelander, Wisc. showed levels of PFAS contamination, but one of the wells still remains online.

Recent tests of wells in Rhinelander, Wisc. showed levels of PFAS contamination, but one of the wells still remains online.

Tests revealed Rhinelander’s Municipal Well 7 showed levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination this past summer, according to WXPR. The well has since been offline. 

Recent tests of this well show no detection of PFOA and PFOS. Well 8 tested at 90.1 ppt for perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) in a sample collected Oct. 2, according to WXPR. The well is still online and contributing to the city’s drinking water, however. 

A public artesian well west of Rhinelander showed levels of PFHxS at 92.6 ppt, reported WXPR. The Oneida County Health Department issued a “Do Not Drink” warning for this well in August.

“Don’t drink the water,” said Todd Troskey, an environmental health specialist with the health department in an interview. “[Crescent Spring has] always been drink-at-your-own risk. But at this point, because we know that PFHxS can be detrimental to someone’s health based on other states that have been advising against drinking water with that compound in it, we just needed to make sure that people are aware that they really shouldn’t drink the water at all at this point.”

The city has taken no action on Well 8, despite having the same contaminant at approximately the same level.

According to City Administrator Daniel Guild, the well is still providing water to the city because of a lack of hard evidence on the negative health risks associated with consuming PFHxS.

“There are no human studies. There are no human trials. There are no animal studies. There are no animal trials on any of these other hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of compounds,” said Guild.

The city turned off Well 7 in June because the combined contaminant levels of PFOA and PFOS were higher than both state and federal recommendations. Since then, the levels in Well 7 have lowered, with recent test results showing no detection.
 

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