CSWAB petitioned the Wisconsin DNR today to develop drinking water Health Advisory Levels for toxic compounds that have been detected in groundwater at U.S. Army Reserve Fort McCoy and other Wisconsin sites that used industrial fire-fighting foams. The petition is the first step in securing enforceable standards and cleanup.
Concentrations of PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid) in groundwater at Fort McCoy are the highest reported in the state, DNR officials said. Reported levels are as high as 120 ug/l which is 1700 times higher than the EPA’s drinking water health advisory of only 0.07 ug/l.
PFOS and PFOA (Perfluorooctonoic Acid) are man-made compounds that are used in a number of products, most notably firefighting foams such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam and in the production of nonstick cookware and stain- or water-resistant fabric.
Animal studies show that exposure to these chemicals can cause adverse effects on the animal’s liver, kidney, and immune system along with developmental effects and cancer. Studies conducted on people who have been exposed to these chemicals suggest that exposure at certain levels may adversely affect the developing fetus and child, the thyroid gland and immune systems, and result in decreased fertility and increased cholesterol levels.
Drinking water is not the only concern as groundwater at Fort McCoy feeds at least seven trout streams that run throughout the property. Many states, including Wisconsin, have issued fish consumption advisories for PFOS in certain water bodies as eating fish is a major pathway for human exposure to these compounds.
The establishment of state Health Advisory Levels is the first step in developing enforceable state standards that will help compel cleanup and restoration of the state’s groundwater resources. Approximately two thirds of the people living in Wisconsin rely on groundwater for their drinking water.