Skip to main content

Lab worker at MN health department got drinking water tests wrong

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A Minnesota Department of Health worker has been accused of misconduct after officials found "improper laboratory practices" relating to studies of state drinking water supplies.

According to an MDH news release, the employee did not follow proper procedures to check whether instruments were working effectively and "avoided quality control steps" that may have "generated weaker, less defensible results."

His job was to test drinking water and untreated ground and surface water for levels of "volatile organic compounds" – such as gasoline and diesel products – they contain.

But the employee in question didn't take the steps required to ensure the equipment they were using was calibrated properly, meaning the results of 2,200 tests between May 2013 and May 2015 may have been inaccurate.

The health department said the improper work was limited to this one employee and did not "present an immediate and significant public risk."

An MDH spokesman told BringMeTheNews that the tests haven't been skewed one way or the other, rather that it is likely it provided a mixture of erroneous results. This means contaminant levels could either be higher or lower than the employee's initial results showed.

The MDH however will have to re-analyze all of the tests in question, and will focus first on the "top-priority" groups, which includes the public water supply systems of Edina, St. Louis Park, Spring Park, Kasota and Brooklyn Center.

Also affected are several private drinking wells in Baytown Townships and adjacent areas of Washington County, and private wells near the Lindala Sanitary Landfill site in Wright County.

The employee has been removed from lab duties by the MDH and is the subject of a separate HR investigation, the results of which are expected to be released next month.

The MDH has said it will be tightening up its own practices in future to prevent future misconduct.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 7.04.37 PM

LIVE UPDATES: Dangerous storms move through Twin Cities

We'll have live updates as the storms move through the metro.

tornado

Tornado watch issued in Twin Cities, southern Minnesota

The watch will remain in place until midnight.

Wild fox.

Wild fox in Minnesota tests positive for highly contagious avian flu

This is the first confirmed case of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a wild mammal in the state, the Department of Natural Resources said.

New COVID-19 testing site in Midway neighborhood.

New COVID-19 testing site in St. Paul; 3 others to close as cases rise

Testing sites in Stillwater, Hutchinson, and St. Paul are closing as part of moves to adjust testing resources.

Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 4.47.49 PM

St. Joseph man dies in motorcycle crash

The 27-year-old motorcyclist struck a curb, causing him to lose control before he crashed.

Downtown-Bike-Day_WS_No-logo

Downtown bike day—city biking at its best!

Move Minneapolis and ABC Ramps Mobility invite you to come along for the ride at Target Plaza on June 1, 2022

Anthony Skelley

Charges: South St. Paul teen killed during apparent marijuana sale

The individual accused of killing Skelley is a 17-year-old from St. Paul.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards among NBA stars in Adam Sandler's Netflix film, 'Hustle'

The Timberwolves point guard stars alongside other NBA players LeBron James, Trae Young, Juancho Hernangomez and more.

police lights

Armed man found barricaded inside Brooklyn Park home, negotiators on scene

An active police presence remains in the area as negotiators speak with the suspect.

Anthony Skelley

17-year-old South St. Paul homicide victim is identified

The medical examiner determined that Skelley died of multiple gunshot wounds.

tornado, severe weather

Tornado watch issued in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska

Severe storms are expected to push into southwest Minnesota this afternoon.

Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.08.37 AM

Korean chicken chain Bonchon's 6th MN location set to open

The South Korean-based franchise has steadily increased its presence across the country.

Related