Wisconsin Drops Environmental Testing for 3 PFAS found in Firefighting Foams

Environmental testing by the Wisconsin DNR detected three PFAS chemicals (10:2 FTS, PFHxDA and PFODA) in firefighting foam and soil at the huge ATC Transformer Fire in Madison in 2019. In a surprising move this week, the WDNR announced that it will be dropping these same three chemicals to match EPA’s less stringent testing protocols.

On March 1, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) announced that it will no longer expect regulated entities to sample for three of the 36 PFAS chemicals that were previously included in site investigations. The three PFAS compounds – 10:2 FTS, PFHxDA and PFODA – were removed from the DNR’s list of PFAS compounds to align with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed method for PFAS analysis.

“We couldn’t be more disappointed in the WDNR’s announcement. Wisconsin should be ADDING to the list of PFAS compounds that are included in initial site screening, not taking away.  All three PFAS chemicals are found in firefighting foam, including those foams used by firefighters at the huge ATC Transformer Fire in Madison in 2019,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “As it is, Wisconsin is only testing for a few dozen of the thousands of PFAS chemicals in our environment.”

The change will also relax requirements for environmental laboratories seeking PFAS certification in Wisconsin. The WDNR webpage states: “As of March 1, 2021, the DNR no longer expects regulated entities, unless otherwise directed by WDNR, to sample for or laboratories to report three of the 36 PFAS compounds on the default PFAS list.”

“The WDNR’s decision is a deferral to testing requirements from the previous EPA Administration, and not what is best for Wisconsin residents and our first responders,” Olah said. “Without good data for these three chemicals, our firefighters will no longer be able to document past exposures and affected communities will have less data than before.”

CSWAB submitted detailed comments last week objecting to the proposed degradation of testing requirements as a member of the WDNR’s newly-formed PFAS External Advisory Group. The Department’s announcement — issued only days later — is especially discouraging.

Featured photo by Wisconsin State Journal.

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Laura Olah | Executive Director

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger | www.CSWAB.org

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