In 2019, Governor Tony Evers declared it the Year of Clean Drinking Water. As part of the state-wide initiative to ensure Wisconsinites have access to clean, safe drinking water, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #40 in August 2019 to address the issue of PFAS(per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Wisconsin.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s.PFAS do not occur naturally and are widespread in the environment. They are found in people, wildlife and fish all over the world. Some PFAS can stay in peoples’ bodies a long time and do not break down easily in the environment.
Executive Order #40 directed the DNR to create the PFAS Coordinating Council (now known as the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council, or WisPAC in partnership with other state agencies. WisPac has developed statewide initiatives to address growing public health and environmental concerns regarding certain PFAS substances. These initiatives are part of a statewide PFAS Action Plan.
Michigan also has formed a citizens’ alliance to help fight PFAs pollution. The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network (GLPAN) is a coalition centered and driven by people impacted by toxic PFAS pollution.
GLPAN combines the resources and expertise in PFAS impacted communities and then combines it with other organizations’ resources and expertise. Together, they educated decision-makers at the state and federal level, secure funding for large-scale cleanup, and ensure accountability for swift, comprehensive solutions to PFAS contamination for people across the Great Lakes region.
Over the past decade, it has become clear that PFAS – which are used in everything from furniture, clothing and cookware to food packaging, child car seats and fire-fighting foam- is responsible for serious health impacts to people and wildlife.
PFAS contamination may be in food, drinking water, dust, some consumer products and workplaces. The EPA concluded that diet is the major contributor of exposure to PFAS compounds, with drinking water and/or dust being additional exposure sources.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has additional information on PFAS, and the US EPA also provides additional health information on PFAS. Another area of interest is PFAS accumulation in wildlife. Little is known about the effects of PFAS accumulation in wild animals and fish.
For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS.
Conservation Corner is a weekly article produced by the Forest County Land &Water Conservation Department. For more information contact Steve Kircher, County Conservationist-Land Information/GIS Director at 715-478-1387 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.