Drinking water is less toxic than it used to be for some Twin Cities residents


Good news for those living in the eastern Twin Cities: Your drinking water is less toxic than it used to be.

It's been almost 12 years since it was discovered that drinking water sources in the east Metro had high concentrations of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which were in turn found in the blood streams of long-time local residents.

According to the Minnesota Department for Health (MDH), PFCs are man-made and used in products to resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water – and while there's no consensus on illnesses they can cause, they are potentially toxic to the liver and thyroid gland, and can affect development.

Residents in Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove were found to have PFCs in their system after the chemicals leaked into the water supply from old dumping grounds, and in 2006 the MDH implemented a program to reduce PFCs in the Washington County water supply.

And this program – which saw filtration systems installed in public and private wells – is proving a success, with MDH announcing Tuesday that PFC levels in the blood of 149 east Metro residents had fallen by between 35 and 60 percent since they were tested in 2008.

Although their PFC levels are still higher than the U.S. average, there is a definite downward trend as the chemicals exit their system. Meanwhile those who moved to the area after the new measures were put in place have no heightened levels of PFCs.

"While still above average U.S. levels, they are getting closer," MDH investigator Jessica Nelson said. "It’s certainly good news that levels in long-term residents continue to drop as we’d expect them to, and that newer residents don’t appear to have unusual exposures to PFCs."

The Pioneer Press previously reported that the cleanup of a PFC-heavy landfill site in Lake Elmo was a major undertaking, costing $21 million to remove dirt that was contaminated by chemicals from 2.5 million cubic yards of garbage.

Corporate giant 3M was thought to be responsible for much of the PFCs found at the site, and pitched in $8 million toward the cleanup, even though a judge ruled that the among of contamination found at the site was not thought to have been harmful to human health.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.34.43 AM

Watch: Drunk squirrel in Minnesota captures the world's attention

The squirrel was immediately cut off after nearly tipping over.

Screen Shot 2020-11-25 at 7.15.09 PM

Small town gym refusing to close facing lawsuit from attorney general

The gym is facing a lawsuit and a temporary restraining order to halt their operations.

credit card, payment

Money Gal Coaching: Bouncing back after living your best life

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.


When do stores open on Black Friday this year?

Many major retailers will be open Black Friday, some for extended hours.

police tape, crime scene

Man found dead outside home near Cass Lake

The man was reportedly shot outside the property.


Gov. Walz announces $1M in grants to boost Minnesota tourism

The money will be used for marketing efforts to attract people to Minnesota's hard-hit tourist spots.

coronavirus, ICU

Nov. 25 COVID-19 update: 72 deaths ties Minnesota's single-day high

A COVID-19 update will not be provided on Thanksgiving Day.


Revival to open its fourth Twin Cities location

The fried chicken and smoked meat maestros are moving to St. Louis Park.

Duluth and Case Recreation Center

St. Paul to open two extra temporary shelters for homeless people

Mayor Melvin Carter announced the new shelters will be opened in the event of excess demand.

vote, election

Minnesota once again had the highest election turnout in the country

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a record percentage of voters also sent in absentee ballots.