March 11, 2006
Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota)
3M releases findings on PFCs. Some fish
taken from river near plant have high levels of industrial chemicals
that were once dumped in river.
BY DENNIS LIEN
Tissue of some fish taken from the Mississippi River near 3M
Co.'s Cottage Grove plant contains high levels of two controversial
industrial chemicals that were once made at the plant and dumped
into the river, 3M's own research says.
The laboratory findings of 62 fish collected from three sections
of the river in August show a wide range of perfluorochemical
levels. But they generally show lower PFC
concentrations upstream of the plant and higher ones near the
plant or downriver.
The findings represent the broadest look
so far into PFC levels in whole bodies or fillets, which wildlife
and people are most likely to consume. Earlier lab samples
showing high levels of PFCs focused mainly on liver and blood.
3M had the work done at a Pennsylvania laboratory as part of
a larger effort to determine the extent of PFC contamination in
the east metro. PFCs, a family of chemicals that do not break
down in the environment, were once made at the plant and used
in products that resist heat, oil, water and grease.
High PFC levels have been tied to liver and developmental problems
in laboratory animals, but 3M contends its research hasn't shown
health problems in people.
A spokesman for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which
has sent a similar sampling of fish to a different laboratory,
said Friday that it plans to study the data and determine what
should be done next.
3M, meanwhile, cautioned against reading too much into the data.
"What we can conclude is more work needs to be done,'' spokesman
Bill Nelson said.
Many of the fish analyzed had negligible amounts of perfluoroocotanic
acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfate, or PFOS. Both are
in the PFC family.
Concentrations of chemicals varied by location, according to
In a stretch just upriver from the plant,
PFOS concentrations in a smallmouth bass were as high as 178 parts
per billion; in a stretch adjacent to the plant, a smallmouth
had 1,320 ppb of PFOS and a bluegill was determined to have a
level of 9,000 ppb.
Immediately downriver from the plant, a
smallmouth had 5,150 ppb of PFOS.
Dennis Lien can be reached at email@example.com or 651-228-5588.