Cole says DNR working to set PFAS rules
By Ken Krall, WXPR News
Wisconsin’s DNR Secretary-designee sounded a word of caution about the extent of water contamination that recently saw Rhinelander join at least two other Wisconsin communities dealing with what’s called PFAS.
In Rhinelander Tuesday, Secretary-designee Preston Cole said what is appearing is the accumulation of industrial chemicals over decades.
He was asked if the PFAS situation has parallels to the water problems in Flint, Michigan.
“I can’t draw the parallel from Flint, but I can draw the parallel that this chemical has presented itself over the last 60 years because it’s part of our manufacturing history,” Cole said. “Now that we know more about how this chemical moves related to water, we’re paying attention, health officials are paying attention. Our responsibility is to pay attention to consumption of water that contains PFAS and set the limits on that.”
Rhinelander recently joined at least two other communities, Marinette and Madison, with PFAS contamination in its drinking water. Well 7 on Rhinelander’s west side was shut down and the rest of the city’s drinking water was deemed to be safe at the other wells.
The EPA reports PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. The chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.