The Wild Rice Lake Reservoir and the Main and East Bays of Fish Lake Flowage were found to be contaminated with PFAS, or “forever chemicals”.
“These ‘forever chemicals’ are really a contaminant that’s sort of popped up at this point. We called them contaminants of emerging concern, and I think at this point we all know they’re a problem.” , Catherine Neuschler, said the head of the MPCA’s water evaluation section.
EPA describes PFAS as long-lasting chemicals that may be linked to “adverse health effects in humans and animals”. They are used in things like nonstick cookware and fire foam.
“The two lakes you are in in St. Louis County, they’re downstream of an area being cleaned up at Duluth International Airport where one of the things that has been identified as a source of PFAS is the use of fire fighting foam on the property, ”Neuschler said. “So we are continuing our cleaning programs to work on it.”
Rice and Fish Lakes are among the first outside the Twin Cities to contain fish with worrying levels of PFOS, one of the compounds in PFAS. Neuschler said PFASs work differently from mercury, but our response should be similar: limit the consumption of fish with potentially high levels of either.
“Label your fish. Where did you catch it? Neuschler suggested. “Make sure the people you share the fish with know where you got it. And then pay attention to this tip so you don’t overeat.”
The Minnesota Department of Health offers fish consumption guidelines for individual bodies of water. For example, most people shouldn’t eat crappies from Fish Lake more than one meal per month. The guidelines may differ for children under 15 and women who are or may become pregnant.
Look up drinking recommendations through the MNR’s LakeFinder website.
Overall, the MPCA added 305 bodies of water to the list of disabled people. Not all of them are related to PFAS.
List of degraded waters Coordinator Miranda Nichols said every 10 years they take an intense look at certain watersheds in the state.
“One of the watersheds that we really looked at last year was the St. Louis River watershed. So it goes right into Duluth,” Nichols said. “And some of the good news is that we looked at about 240 bodies of water in this watershed and only found about 30 deficiencies. So that really shows that keeping this virgin land is really going to keep this water. Virgin.”
The list of degraded waters is still in the drafting phase and virtual public meetings are organized throughout the month of December.
- A statewide discussion, which will include PFOS in fish tissue and sulfate in wild rice water, will take place on Thursday, December 9 at 2 p.m. ET.
- The northeastern Minnesota regional meeting is on Friday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m.
Public comments are accepted until January 7, 2022.
Click here to view Minnesota’s degraded waters on a map.