ERMU Upholds Water Standards with PFAS Testing

You probably know that Elk River Municipal Utilities (ERMU) provides quality and cost-effective utility services to its customers. As a part of that mission, ERMU upholds water standards with PFAS testing, a voluntary project in which it recently participated to promote safety and reliability. Keep reading to learn more about this process and what it means for you.

To evaluate chemical levels in drinking water, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) conducts statewide community water tests. Not long ago, ERMU volunteered to participate in this per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) water testing.

According to ERMU Water Superintendent David Ninow, the sampling results showed PFAS levels below the available health-based guidance values. A person who drinks water that is at or below the guidance value would experience little or no risk for health effects.

Manmade Chemicals

PFAS are a family of manmade chemicals that have been widely used for decades to make items that resist oil, water, stains, heat, and grease. They are often found in a variety of materials like: 

·         Nonstick cookware

·         Stain-resistant carpets and fabrics

·         Electrical wire insulation

·         Food packaging, including microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and fast-food wrappers

·         Consumer products, such as cosmetics, dental floss, and cleaning products

PFAS Effects and Exposure

Because PFAS are extremely stable, they are often referred to as “forever chemicals.” PFAS do not break down in the environment. Instead, they can travel through the ground and contaminate water supplies, which is why testing is so important.

According to MDH reports, people are exposed to PFAS primarily through drinking beverages or eating food made with contaminated water. Vulnerability to dust or using consumer products that contain PFAS are also means of exposure.

Some PFAS can build up and stay in the body for many years. Alternatively, they may slowly decline if the exposure stops.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that human health effects from exposure to low environmental levels of PFAS are uncertain and more research is necessary. PFAS are the focus of active analysis and study, which means new information is frequently discovered and released.

Monitoring and Testing 

In 2020, the MDH began its Statewide PFAS Monitoring Project with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Fund. The goal is to test all community water systems in Minnesota for PFAS. The project expects to reach that goal in 2023.

Through this project, ERMU voluntarily tested for PFAS, and the results show that we are below any risk level. ERMU will continue to monitor levels and include results in future annual Water Quality Reports.

Proactive testing protects the health of public water system customers and is the first step to reducing risk from PFAS exposure. As part of its mission, ERMU upholds water standards with PFAS testing and is proud to voluntarily take part in this initiative to ensure services reflect the excellence, dependability, and expertise on which our customers rely. Contact us to learn more about PFAS or our high-quality water standards.

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