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Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals that are used in many products like non-stick pots and pans, water-resistant and stain-resistant clothes, food packaging, upholstery, carpets, and firefighting foams. Manufactured by chemical companies since the 1940s, PFAS molecules are made up of a chain of carbon and fluorine atoms linked together—one of the strongest chemical bonds in existence. There are no known natural processes that break down these chemicals. High concentrations of PFAS can affect health. PFAS have been detected in some Madison municipal water wells at low or trace concentrations.
PFAS compounds are not regulated on the federal or state level, although Wisconsin is working toward developing drinking water standards. No water utilities in Wisconsin are currently required to test for any PFAS compounds in drinking water. No food packaging or consumer products are required to label or disclose the presence of PFAS.
Every well currently operating in Madison meets every PFAS standard set by any state in the U.S., including New Hampshire and Vermont, which have the toughest standards.
Thank you to everyone who came to the January 30th meeting about PFAS testing at Well 9 on Spaanem Avenue. You can find a PDF of the presentation here. If you could not attend but have questions, please call MWU's Water Quality Department at (608) 266-4654 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Results of Madison Water Utility's testing for PFAS compounds at all 23 municipal water wells.
Although water at Well 15 on East Washington Ave. has not exceeded any state or federal drinking water standard, Madison Water Utility will not operate the well for the foreseeable future. Learn more about PFAS at Well 15 and where the chemicals may be coming from.
Madison Water Utility has gotten a number of questions about PFAS in drinking water. See our FAQs for some answers.
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Learn the latest from Public Health Madison Dane County about PFAS contamination, water testing results, and remediation plans.
A timeline showing how Madison Water Utility discovered PFAS in Madison.