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HomeNews'Stop Contaminating Our Water': Wisconsin City Takes Makers of ‘Forever Chemicals’ to...

‘Stop Contaminating Our Water’: Wisconsin City Takes Makers of ‘Forever Chemicals’ to Court

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In January 2022, local authorities in Wausau, Wisconsin, found PFAS in the groundwater wells that supply their public water system. They would later learn that these PFAS, also called forever chemicals, got into groundwater wells through the activities of local companies. 

A sign on Kayla Furton's lawn
Source: WPR

To safeguard the health and safety of residents, the city council took some proactive steps. Starting from the period of the PFAS discovery in Wausau’s public water sources, the council made certain palliatives available to residents.

For example, they distributed bottled water and household filtration pitchers to residents. This emergency initiative drained taxpayer money to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After analyzing the situation, they found a more permanent solution to the PFAS contamination. 

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Since the PFAS contamination of Wausau’s groundwater wells is one of Wisconsin’s most profound, they started planning to install a granulated carbon filtration system. However, this facility is costly, as it will gulp a whopping $17.5 million. The city council will fund the project with a loan, and there are projections that it will be ready in the coming year. 

Now that the city council has taken responsibility to address the situation, they are also going a step further. The city of Wausau is filing a lawsuit against 15 manufacturers of PFAS and 61 insurance companies directly involved in the case.

According to a press release by Katie Rosenberg—Wausau Mayor Napoli Shkolnik is handling the lawsuit filing. Napoli Shkolnik is a national law firm that specializes in environmental litigation. 

ALSO READ: Authorities Initiate an Investigation after Transgender was Found Bathing with High School Girls in Wisconsin

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PFAS are not called forever chemicals for no reason. They are common man-made chemicals because they confer water and stain-resisting properties on wares. So, they are used on products like non-stick cookware, clothing, carpet, firefighting foam, and packaging materials.

However, as their names infer, they abide forever when these materials find their way into biological systems. In simple terms, they are not biodegradable and have toxic tendencies. Official catalogs of PFAS indicate there are as many as 12,000 variants.

The most vital point about forever chemicals is that research has linked them to human illnesses. Top on the list are cancers, reproductive and immune deficiencies, low birth weights, and hormone instability. 

Of all the inlets of PFAS into the human body, studies cite drinking water as the most probable source. Unfortunately, the PFAS contamination is not peculiar to Wausau alone. A handful of Wisconsin cities have found PFAS in their public drinking water in the past year and have equally filed lawsuits against the responsible organizations. 

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In November, residents of Campbell town sued the neighboring city of La Crosse for property damage by PFAS. In August, four residents of Stella sued a paper processing plant in their county for contaminating their wells. These are just a few of the several Wisconsin PFAS lawsuits in the past year. 

The manufacturers and users of PFAS have breached the trust of Wisconsin residents, as they did not disclose the consequences of having the chemicals in their environment. So, Wisconsin has become the pioneer state to have PFAS limits on their drinking water, as instituted by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

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