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Wisconsin DNR board to vote on rules for PFAS in firefighting foam

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FILE: In this June 2021 photo, the Navy's Blue Angels fly over French Island, where many private wells are contaminated with PFAS. (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources policy board is set to vote later this month on permanent rules implementing a law that restricts the use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS chemicals.

Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill in 2020 that prohibits the use of foam that contains PFAS except in emergency situations and for testing, and then only if it can be disposed of or stored without seeping into the environment.

Multiple regions of Wisconsin have been dealing with mounting PFAS pollution, including the town of Campbell just outside La Crosse, where residents there have been forced to use bottled water for a year and have been told by the DNR they will continue to do so “indefinitely.”

The DNR estimates the rules could cost facilities that use foam for emergencies or testing a total of $600,000 to $4 million annually, although costs could shrink over time as facilities use replacement foam or other methods.

The board is set to vote on the rules at a meeting Jan. 26 in Madison.

PFAS are man-made chemicals commonly used in cookware, carpets and firefighting foam. They don’t break down over time in the environment and have been associated with serious health problems, including cancer and reduced birth weights.

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