Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals that have been widely used for decades. PFAS are extremely stable and do not breakdown in the environment. PFAS have been found in the groundwater and surface water in Minnesota. Some PFAS can build up and stay in the human body for many years. They can also slowly decline if the exposure stops.
PFAS are emerging contaminants. Emerging contaminants are contaminants about which we have a new awareness or understanding about how they move in the environment or affect public health. PFAS, like other emerging contaminants, are the focus of active research and study, which means that new information is released frequently.
PFAS are commonly used for their water- and grease-resistant properties. People can be exposed through the following:
- Drinking contaminated municipal water or private well water
- Eating fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS (PFOS, in particular)
- Accidentally swallowing contaminated soil or dust
- Eating food grown or raised near places that used or made PFAS
- Eating food packaged in material that contains PFAS
- Using some consumer products treated with PFAS such as stain resistant carpeting and water repellent clothing
People are exposed to PFAS primarily through drinking beverages or eating food made with contaminated water and exposure to PFAS in dust or consumer products. Exposures that are expected to be minor include 1) exposure through skin contact because absorption through skin is low and 2) exposure through breathing in fine water droplets is expected to be infrequent, short, and involve small amount.
Stress at Contaminated Sites: Coping with the stress that environmental contamination can cause (PDF)
- Since 2002, the MDH has partnered with the MPCA to investigate PFAS in Minnesota.
- Reports for communities using data reported to MCRS.
- Blood levels of PFAS tested over time in people from the St. Paul East Metro area.
- Information on testing your private well.
- The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have investigated a number sites across the state where PFAS were released to the environment.
- Advice about eating fish from lakes and rivers where fish have been tested and contaminant levels in some fish species are higher.
- Information about health risks of exposure to PFAS, health-based guidance for PFAS in water and air, and how to lower your exposure to PFAS.
- For use by health care providers in counseling patients.
- About PFAS testing in drinking water from public water systems.
- If you have concerns about your health, you can take steps to reduce your potential exposure to PFAS from drinking water in your home.
- Watering home gardens with PFAS‐contaminated water can increase the levels of PFAS in the soil and edible plants.
Other Agency Resources
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: PFAS pollution
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Minnesota’s PFAS Blueprint
- US Environmental Protection Agency: Research on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
- US Environmental Protection Agency: PFAS Explained
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) and Your Health
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