Chemicals that are suspected of health problems have been found in Rhinelander's water, but the offending well has been shut down and the city water has since tested free of the chemicals. But a popular water spring is still be tested to see if it's affected.
The City of Rhinelander and Oneida County Public Health both reported Tuesday that what are known as PFAS were detected in water testing. They're found in fire suppression foams, some grease-resistant paper, nonstick cookware, stain resistant fabrics, cleaning products, and other personal care products.
City Administrator Daniel Guild says the city was informed it had the chemicals in the water supply..
"...The well has been tested before, which is where the test results came in that gave us the concern. The well was then shut down and then the water in the distribution system and the water coming from the other wells has been tested..."
Guild says since the testing after the well in question was shut down found the rest of the city water supply to be safe...
"...The water is absolutely safe. The current test results are available to any Rhinelander customer. All the water that the city is pumping, if there are trace amounts of chemicals in them, it's well below any recommended level of health concern...."
Oneida County Sanitarian Todd Troskey says the offending well is on the city's far west side. Nearby is the Town of Crescent spring, which draws many people to get it's water. He says the Health Dept. is posting the spring..
"The spring is going to be posted as drinking at your own risk at this point as we don't know whether there is going to be any PFAS compounds detected in that water. We're just being proactive and making sure that people are going to be made aware that not only are we going to have testing done but at this point they shouldn't drink the water, just to be safe..."
On-going studies show PFAS could affect fertility rates, cholesterol levels, thyroid disease and other health problems.
We have the press releases from both agencies on our website here. The press releases also have contact links for more information.
We've been investigating this story for awhile because of a listener question to WXPR's Curious North series. If you have a question about water quality or anything else local to our region, submit it below and we might follow up on it in a future news story.