Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

After high PFAS levels found in Rhinelander water well, Northwoods lab president warns of limitations of testsSubmitted: 07/29/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

After high PFAS levels found in Rhinelander water well, Northwoods lab president warns of limitations of tests
CRANDON - People in Rhinelander can now feel safe drinking city water, according to the city and the Oneida County Health Department.

Since late June, a city well has been shut down. That well was found to have water with high levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been linked to health issues.

But a Northwoods water testing expert says the process for detecting PFAS levels is relatively new and has plenty of limitations.

Northern Lake Service in Crandon is the only lab in the state that can test for PFAS. President RT Krueger says the quantities his lab tests for are miniscule.


"We're looking for incredibly minute amounts of these compounds," Krueger said Monday.

A test showed a water sample taken May 30 from Rhinelander's Well 7 had 104.8 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS. An additional test, using water collected June 27, showed the PFAS level at 86.9 ppt.

New state recommendations set the limit at 20 ppt.

"Those are the numbers that are protective of people in Wisconsin," said Dr. Sarah Yang, a groundwater toxicologist for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Yang helped develop the recommendation, which came out in June.

"The person who is at the most risk is actually the developing baby inside a pregnant mom, and then that baby when it's being breastfed by the mom," Yang said. "We actually used some new studies to make sure that we're protecting that most sensitive population."

That recommendation is not yet law. It's undergoing DNR review, which will likely take years.

But Krueger is concerned about the urgency of PFAS regulation.

"There's been a rush to regulate them," he said. "I can understand the balance between people being concerned about these things, but I also understand that it is a process that we need to take our time and make sure we understand the ramifications."

Krueger worries PFAS testing and headlines run the risk of unduly scaring people before full, robust tests are even available.

He's confident his tests are accurate, but notes tests aren't even developed for many other compounds in the PFAS family.

"We're really, really pushing the limits of what those methods were originally set out to do. That doesn't mean that those methods can't do it, it just means that we have to be very, very careful of what we expect from those methods," Krueger said.

The current tests are like a bathroom scale, Krueger said. The scale works well for weighing a person or a dog, but not for things much heavier or lighter.

"Right now, we're trying to weigh butterflies and elephants in a method that's really good for weighing me and my dog," he said.

Krueger calls the technological and regulatory complexity of PFAS testing the most challenging he's ever experienced.

Last week, the DNR set out another testing plan. It's asking 125 cities, villages, and towns to test for PFAS in their wastewater.

Krueger is skeptical existing tests can do that effectively.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

WAUSAU - Wisconsin produces 90 to 95 percent of all the ginseng in the whole country. 

Ninety-five percent of that crop is grown in Marathon County, according to the Wisconsin DATCP.

+ Read More

MADISON - Three legislators have introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin.

Sens. Jon Erpenbach and Patrick Testin along with Rep. Chris Taylor introduced the bill Friday. Erpenbach and Taylor are Democrats. Testin is a Republican.

The bill would require patients to get a doctor's recommendation. State health officials would have to create a registry system and agriculture officials would have to create a licensing system for growers, producers and sellers.

+ Read More

BLACK RIVER FALLS - Four small children and one woman were sent to the hospital with injuries after a car hit a horse and buggy in Wisconsin's Jackson County.

Sheriff's Capt. Adam Olson says the crash happened Thursday evening on U.S. Highway 10 in the town of Cleveland. Both the buggy and the car were traveling west when the car rear-ended the buggy.

+ Read More

MADISON - A group of lawmakers is introducing a bill that would allow American Indians from anywhere in the United States to pay resident tuition at University of Wisconsin System schools.

The bill's chief sponsors, Democratic state Rep. Nick Milroy, Republican Rep. Jeff Mursau and Democratic Sen. Jeff Smith, say they hope the bill will encourage more American Indians to attend college in Wisconsin, increase campus diversity and serve as a step toward reconciliation after so many tribes lost their land in the 19th century.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Vehicles with loud exhaust can be very annoying. The exhaust can also be expensive if you get a citation that's around 200 dollars.

Wisconsin requires people to maintain their exhaust system and to have a muffler in working condition. Oneida County Sheriff Patrol Sergeant Brad Fogerty says the biggest problem is during the winter.

"Exhausts can fail at any time during the year," said Oneida County Patrol Sergeant Brad Fogerty. "In northern Wisconsin with the winters we have and the amount of salts that is used on the road, that commonly will disintegrate a lot of our exhaust systems. Exhaust can get loud for a variety of reasons. Poor maintenance, exhaust can just wear out over time, or it can just become defective or altered with after-market products."

+ Read More

Play Video

ONEIDA COUNTY - Thousands of visitors filled the Northwoods this summer helping the state see a 12% increase in tourist arrivals.

+ Read More

NEWBOLD - The Newbold Outdoor Recreation Center will soon have a new building.

Blackwell Job Corps provided the labor for the town to build the facility.

Builders put in a concrete slab for the foundation one month ago to start the project.

An instructor at Blackwell says that building will help store items. 

"This storage shed is going to be for them to store their equipment for their disc golf facility," said Jim Flannery, A construction craft labor instructor at Blackwell. "They have lawnmowers and UTV's and things like that to go into this facility." 

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: