February 12, 2014
Health officials to conduct third study of PFC levels in blood of east metro residents
The Minnesota Department of Health will conduct a third study of the levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in the blood of residents in several Washington County communities to determine if measures taken to reduce PFC exposures in people are working. The East Metro PFC3 Biomonitoring Project (PFC3) will begin next week with a mailing to selected residents of Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove to inform them of the study.
Some drinking water sources in this area were contaminated with perfluorochemicals prior to a 2006 public health intervention. That response included providing granular activated carbon filters to residents on private well water, hooking some residents up to city water supplies and installing treatment filters in the city water systems.
The new study will seek to answer two main questions. First: Are PFC levels continuing to go down in a group of long-term East Metro residents who drank contaminated water before the intervention? Previous MDH biomonitoring projects showed that PFC blood levels in residents in the area were elevated but then declined substantially from 2008 to 2010 in this group. Second: In newer Oakdale residents, people who moved to the city after the intervention, are PFC levels comparable to the U.S. general population and are they linked to length of residence in Oakdale?
To answer the first question, MDH biomonitoring program staff will be contacting people who participated in the past studies and asking them to have their blood drawn at HealthEast Oakdale. To answer the second question, MDH staff will send a letter to randomly selected Oakdale households asking for information on eligible adults who live there. From the larger list of eligible adults, staff will randomly select up to 200 people to participate. Participants will fill out a short questionnaire and have a small amount of blood drawn at HealthEast Oakdale for PFC testing. If they choose, participants will receive their individual PFC results.
"We hope that the community members we contact in the next few weeks will read our materials and consider being part of the project," said Jessica Nelson, program coordinator at MDH. "Each person's response is very important to the quality of the study and will be key in helping us get good answers to these questions."
The PFC3 project was recommended by the Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Advisory Panel and was funded through legislation from the 2013 Legislative Session. Biomonitoring tells us about people's exposure to chemicals by measuring them in blood, urine, or hair. Minnesota Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People measures levels of chemicals in Minnesotans and whether chemical exposures differ between groups and over time. This information is used to promote public health actions to reduce chemical exposures.
More information on the PFC3 biomonitoring project, or other biomonitoring projects, is on the MDH website at: http://www.health.state.mn.us/biomonitoring.