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Demand rises for PFAS testing in private wells as cities find evidence of the 'forever chemicals'

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As places like Wausau and Rib Mountain detect PFAS in municipal wells, some people who rely on private wells for drinking water are becoming increasingly concerned.

Crandon’s Northern Lake Service says that has driven up demand for residential PFAS testing.

Northern Lake Service first started testing for the “forever chemicals” in 2013 when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its Third Unregulated Containment Monitoring Rule, which listed PFAS chemicals as a possible health concern.

Since then, communities across the country have been testing for the chemicals, and as technology and detection limits have evolved, more and more communities have found evidence of PFAS.

Kristen Tienor, a client support coordinator with Northern Lake Service, says lately, demand for PFAS testing from both cities and private well-owners has been rising.

“Certain municipalities have been testing ever since that program just because they were concerned they may have had it, and it’s just opening up more doors for, ‘oh hey, now you have it, now we better check this place,’ and it’s just a snowball effect that keeps happening,” she says. “It’s gotten out of control.”

Tienor says demand has picked up most among private well owners in Wausau, La Crosse and Marinette – all places where PFAS has been detected in public wells.

The City of Rhinelander is partnering with the county and the airport on a project to test residential wells around the airport. Evidence of PFAS has been found in public wells in that area.

Tienor says projects like that are why she doesn’t expect demand for PFAS testing to go down anytime soon.

“They’re finding it, I don’t want to say every place they test, but lots of places they do test for it, they find it,” she says. “I just see a steady rise in that testing.”

Erin Gottsacker joined WXPR in December 2020. As a morning edition host and reporter, Erin reports on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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