The WI Natural Resources Board voted 5-1 Wednesday to authorize the WI Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to begin rulemaking to establish state environmental standards for PFOA and PFOS, two PFAS compounds used in firefighting foam.
The rulemaking will revise three separate state standards: for safe drinking water, to reduce PFAS substances in drinking water supplies; for groundwater quality, to reduce PFAS contamination in groundwater; and for surface water quality, by establishing discharge limitations for designated PFAS substances.
Scientists know relatively little about the health effects of most types of PFAS. Although certain PFAS have been detected in the environment at low levels, their mere presence does not mean they’re harmful. Each PFAS compound needs to be evaluated based upon its own properties.
Some studies have shown that at very high doses some PFAS compounds can result in adverse health effects in animals. However, the weight of scientific evidence does not show that PFOS or PFOA causes harm to the environment or people at current or historical levels. Research has shown that the levels of PFOS and PFOA in the general population have dropped by more than 70 percent since 2000.
The process for drafting the Wisconsin rules is expected to take about a year. After that, the DNR must complete an economic impact study and hold public hearings prior to returning to the Board for approval of the rules in 2021 and the WI Legislature the next year.