ST. PAUL — Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials on Tuesday, Nov. 16, said they are hoping to work with hundreds of businesses around the state to test and monitor the spread of PFAS, long-lasting chemicals that can contaminate water and cause health problems in animals and people.
MPCA leaders released a draft proposal on Tuesday that would ask wastewater treatment plants, landfills, airports, chrome plating facilities and automotive shredders to collect samples from their facilities and have them tested for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.
The new rules are aimed at limiting the spread of the chemicals before they enter waterways or contaminate the air. And the information gleaned from testing could help the state better understand what kind of PFAS are being created by or moved through Minnesota facilities, MPCA PFAS Coordinator Sophie Greene said.
“We’re anticipating that we’ll get a broad swath of data, not just about the legacy PFAS, but also about these newer PFAS that we’re expecting to see a little bit more in some of these facilities,” Greene said.
The guidelines aren't final. And they could be tweaked before they're expected to take effect early next year. The agency requested public input on the new rules before December 20.
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Greene along with MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler said they hoped that asking producers to start testing would yield a stronger response than requiring the assessments. The tests can cost up to $500 per sample. They said Michigan had positive results after taking a similar approach.
“We recognize that if we can do things with partners in a voluntary or less regulatory atmosphere, we’re going to be successful faster," Kessler said, "but we do have authority to require treatment and reduction if this approach shows that more reduction is necessary."
MPCA officials last week reported that for the first time PFAS had been detected in Greater Minnesota waterways. The state now has 26 bodies of water that are polluted by PFAS in levels that don’t meet water-quality standards.