PFC Groundwater Contamination

Asked February 14, 2018, 4:49 PM EST

Our home property in Washington Co. has our own well water. Recently, in a co-operative effort by the Minnesota Dept. of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, our well water was tested for perfluorochemical (PFC) contamination and was determined unsafe for drinking or cooking. Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) in our well was determined to be at 0.081 ppb. Drinking water criteria is 0.027 ppb. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) in our well was determined to be at 0.069 ppb. Drinking water criteria is 0.035 ppb. We have been provided with bottled water for our personal consumption. We have made application to have a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter installed to treat our drinking water. Finally, my question. We have a vegetable garden which we irrigate with our well water and of course, we eat the vegetables. Should we be concerned that the vegetables we consume from our garden are contaminated with levels of PFC above and beyond a safe level? Do unsafe levels of PFC appear in asparagus, great beans, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, etc.? Should we make some attempt to install the GAC filter system so our garden irrigation water is filtered as well?

Washington County Minnesota human health drinking water water contamination well water

1 Response

Thank you for your question. It's good you're taking action on this issue with your well. Water quality questions associated with public health issues are best fielded by the Minnesota Department of Health. I’ve included a link to the PFC page found on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/waste/perfluorochemicals-pfcs

Until you are certain of your well water status, it's best to not consume foods grown in this area. A study was completed in 2014 that noted PFC levels were high in produce watered with PFC-contaminated water. You may have read this already. The contact about the study is located at the end. He may be helpful as well regarding your produce. Here is the link: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/hazardous/topics/pfcs/pihgssumm.pdf

You may want to consider building raised beds for growing edibles, and filling them with non-contaminated soil as PFCs remain in the soil a long time per the MN Dept. of Public Health. Here is an Extension publication Building Raised Beds that may be helpful: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/raised-bed-gardens/