Biomonitoring to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Local PFC Exposure Reduction Initiatives

Environmental testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and other state agencies discovered drinking water contamination from legacy disposal of wastes containing perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in communities located east of Minneapolis-St. Paul (the “East Metro”). In response, measures to reduce exposures to PFCs in drinking water were implemented in 2006, including installation of carbon filtration systems in public and private water supplies and provision of alternative water sources for households using private wells.

As a result of community and policymakers’ concerns about this contamination, the MDH Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Program conducted a biomonitoring pilot project in 2008 to measure PFCs in the blood of 196 East Metro residents exposed to contaminated drinking water. Results showed that residents’ blood levels were higher than the national average.

To determine whether the actions taken to reduce drinking water exposure to PFCs were successful, MDH staff conducted a follow-up biomonitoring project in 2010-2011. PFC blood levels were measured in 164 participants from the earlier project. Results showed that blood levels of the three most commonly detected PFCs declined substantially (from 13-26% on average) since 2008. The findings indicate that the public health interventions put into place to reduce PFC exposures in drinking water in these Minnesota communities were effective.  Activities for this project, including local communications and outreach, would not have been possible without significant support from the MN Legislature and federal funding from the CDC National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

 

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