Thursday, July 9, 2009

3M chemicals found in residents' blood

Tests of east metro residents shows 3M chemicals in their blood.

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: July 9, 2009 - 12:16 PM

Sorry, nojustice - 3M Co. Class Action Rejected

Stillwater MN: (Jun-20-07) Eastern Twin Cities area residents tried to file a class action against the chemical plant for private and city … read more well contamination. 3M Co. made perfluourochemicals (PFCs) for 50 years before stopping production in 2002. The chemicals do not break down readily in the environment and allegedly build up in human and animal blood. 3M disposed of waste materials containing PFCs at two landfills in Washington County in compliance with the applicable laws at the time. However, the chemicals were later found in private wells in the Lake Elmo area and in Oakdale's city well. The lawsuit sought to force 3M to take steps to prevent further contamination and remove the contamination that already exists, as well as monetary damages. Washington County District Judge Mary Hannon ruled that the plaintiffs failed to meet the extensive legal requirements under Minnesota law to get the lawsuit certified as a class action. [LA CROSSE TRIBUNE: PFC WELL CONTAMINATION REJECTED]


East metro residents who drank water tainted with 3M chemicals have retained trace levels of those compounds in their blood, according to a new state health study. Scientists tested blood from 196 volunteers in Lake Elmo, Cottage Grove and Oakdale and found that levels of three compounds were slightly above the national average. Those eligible for the study had to live in areas where private wells or city water was found to be contaminated.

Study participants have been notified of the results, and state health officials will hold two public meetings to explain the findings and to answer other questions.

The compounds, known as perfluorochemicals, were manufactured by 3M in its Cottage Grove plant for more than 50 years until 2002. They were used in Scotchgard, Teflon, firefighting foam and hundreds of other products. The company disposed of wastes in area dumps until the mid-1970s.

3M agreed in 2007 to clean up the chemicals in four locations. It has also financed hookups with city water for more than 200 households with contaminated private wells in Lake Elmo, and paid for Oakdale to install special filters for a city well that was tainted.

Little is known about the long-term health effects of exposure to the chemicals. 3M has reported that studies of its workers who made the perfluorochemicals have had no impact on their health. Studies on animals have shown effects on the liver, thyroid and pancreas, but it's unclear whether those problems are likely to affect humans and at what levels of exposure.

The public meetings will occur on July 21 at Skyview Elementary School in Oakdale, and on July 22 at Cottage Grove's city council chambers.

Both meetings begin with an open house at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation at 7 p.m.

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

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