Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) petitioned the Wisconsin DNR today to establish drinking water Health Advisory Levels for 17 break-down products of the explosive compound Dinitrotoluene (DNT). Classified by EPA as a probable human carcinogen, DNT has affected groundwater at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Sauk County and other Wisconsin military sites including Fort McCoy near Sparta and the former DuPont Barksdale Explosives Plant in Bayfield County.
Of the 17 currently unregulated degradation products of DNT, ten have been detected in groundwater in Sauk County, according to the state’s Groundwater Retrieval Network. Maximum reported concentrations ranged from 16.7 to 11,000 parts per billion (ppb). Although no data was found for the remaining seven degradation products, all six isomers of DNT (the parent product) have been detected in groundwater in Sauk County.
From January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2010, DNT was detected in 462 groundwater samples in Sauk County. Maximum reported concentrations ranged from 2.2 ppb to 14,000 ppb. By comparison, the Wisconsin Groundwater Enforcement Standard for total DNT is only 0.05 ppb.
The WDNR currently requires the Army to test numerous groundwater and drinking water wells in and near the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant for DNT. However, while certain groundwater monitoring wells have been tested for DNT degradation products, the Army has not been required to test private wells or a nearby municipal well for these contaminants.
If CSWAB’s petition is accepted, the WDNR will ask the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to review the health effects and consider establishing Health Advisory Levels (HALs). These values will assist state regulators with water consumption advisories and groundwater remediation decisions. HALs will also provide the public with essential information about the potential health risks associated with exposure to these contaminants in drinking water and groundwater.