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Wisconsin lawmaker: PFAS pollution seems ‘insurmountable’

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — PFAS pollution in Wisconsin waters seems “insurmountable,” a state legislator said Tuesday.

Democratic state Sen. Diane Hesselbein made the remark during a Senate natural resources committee hearing on the chemicals’ spread across the state.

University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental engineering expert Christy Remucal told the committee that researchers have not found a way to destroy the chemicals or remove them from the environment on a large scale. She said that right now the best approach is to keep the chemicals from entering the environment in the first place, prompting Hesselbein’s comment.

Remucal tried to reassure her that research continues.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of man-made chemicals used widely in consumer products ranging from nonstick cookware and water-repellent sports gear to stain-resistent carpets. They’re also a key ingredient in fire-extinguishing foams.

They can accumulate and persist in the human body for long periods. Exposure may lead to cancer and other health problems.

A host of Wisconsin communities are grappling with PFAS contamination in the groundwater, including Madison, Marinette and the town of Campbell just outside La Crosse. UW-Madison researchers led by Remucal released findings late last year showing a plume of PFAS contamination in the bay of Green Bay.