Low levels of PFBA found in six cities wells

Armen Hareyan's picture

Levels pose no immediate health risk to residents; source of contamination under investigation

The Minnesota Department of Health has detected low levels of the chemical perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) in municipal wells in Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Newport, St. Paul Park, South St. Paul and Hastings. The contamination in all of these cities, except Woodbury, appears to be occurring in an area of groundwater that is separate from the one in Lake Elmo and Oakdale. The source of this new area of contamination is under investigation.


PFBA is one of a family of chemicals known as perfluorochemicals or PFCs. They were made and used by several companies around the world in household and industrial products such as stain repellents, lubricants, fire retardants and suppressants, pesticides, surfactants, and emulsifiers. PFBA was made by the 3M Company at its Cottage Grove facility.

Studies in laboratory animals have shown that PFCs may cause health problems if consumed in large enough quantities over long periods of time, or consumed at a sensitive time during development. Studies by 3M of workers exposed to PFCs during manufacturing show no apparent impact on their health.

"Finding this chemical at low levels does not pose an immediate health risk for residents," said John Linc Stine, director of the Environmental Health Division for MDH. "It does mean we need to proceed cautiously, investigate further and, if necessary, take steps to reduce people