Minnesota rolls out plan to clean up ‘forever chemicals’
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota officials on Wednesday unveiled their plan to deal with toxic man-made “forever chemicals” that are polluting the state’s waters and causing growing concerns about potential health risks.
The pharmaceuticals, microplastics and synthetic chemicals are known collectively as PFAS and are used in a variety of consumer products because of their durability and resistance to heat and water. An increasing number of scientists have linked some PFAS to negative health effects in humans, such as low birth weight, thyroid and kidney problems and some cancers.
“These forever chemicals are everywhere,” Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a Zoom meeting that included leaders from other state agencies, lawmakers and environmental activists. “And new PFAS are being invented, used in industry and incorporated into commercial products, and released into the environment every day.”
The Minnesota PFAS Blueprint calls for the state to enact stronger regulations, including designating more than 5,000 different chemicals as hazardous substances under Minnesota’s Superfund law. That would make it easier to hold companies financially liable for cleaning up PFAS pollution.
The plan also calls for additional $3 million in state funding over the next two years to help researchers identify sources of PFAS in the environment and find out how the chemicals are coming into landfills, compost sites and wastewater treatment plants and ending up in Minnesota’s waters.
Two PFAS compounds that were long manufactured by 3M in Minnesota were discovered in the drinking water supplies of the east Twin Cities metro area in the early 2000s. The state in 2018 settled a lawsuit against 3M over the contamination after the company agreed to pay $850 million.