A bill has been introduced in the state Senate to provide $626,000 over the next two years to continue a PFC biomonitoring program for residents in several east-metro communities, as a panel of health experts had recommended.
Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed 2014-2015 budget contained no funding to continue the program begun five years ago to monitor levels of PFCs — perfluorochemicals, a family of compounds formerly manufactured by 3M Co. and used in an array of products — that had been legally dumped at four sites in Washington County.
In its recommendation to the Legislature, the state Health Department’s Environmental Health Tracking and Biomonitoring Advisory Panel had urged spending $1.2 million in the biennium to continue and expand the PFC monitoring, and to study mercury levels in children statewide after elevated levels were found in areas around Lake Superior.
Dayton’s budget funded the mercury study and a second study on chronic respiratory problems in urban areas. With limited state resources, agency officials said, difficult decisions on priorities for the state’s biomonitoring program had to be made.
State Sen. Katie Sieben of Cottage Grove, with fellow DFLer John Marty of Roseville, introduced the bill to restore the PFC study funding.
The health department’s PFC studies of volunteers in Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo and Oakdale, near the dumping sites, found that levels of three types of the compounds had declined from 2008 to 2010 by as much as 26 percent since a massive cleanup effort began. The final analysis of the study is due in June.
The panel had recommended continuing the study to see whether those numbers — which are still above the national average — continue to decline, and whether efforts to limit exposure work.
PFCs are at the heart of a state lawsuit filed against 3M in late 2010. The company maintains there is no conclusive proof that PFCs are harmful to people or the environment.