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Non-profit starts “#PFAS Free Wisconsin” educational campaign

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FRENCH ISLAND, Wis. (WXOW) - Midwest Environmental Advocates launched a "#PFAS Free Wisconsin" campaign on Tuesday to advocate for increased statewide well water testing.

"If you don't test your water you have no idea what toxic chemicals may be inside," Town of Campbell Supervisor Lee Donahue said. "Safe drinking water is a basic human need. It shouldn't be which party you belong to, it should not be a partisan issue."

Primarily, Poly-and Perfluoroalkyl Substances are found in thousands of daily use products. They're related to non-stick coating or waterproofing. They're also found in certain firefighting foams.

Marinette city councilor Doug Oitzinger agreed with Donahue.

"It doesn't matter if you're Democrat or Republican or Libertarian," Oitzinger said. "[If] you drink poison water? That's bad."

Pediatrician and Wisconsin Environmental health Network Co-President Dr. Beth Neary said PFAS chemicals can stay in the human body for 35 years and more well testing is necessary.

"Pretending there isn't a problem never makes a problem go away. Remember Flint?" Dr. Neary said. "They tried to hide their problem and in the long run they created a catastrophe. I don't want that to happen to our state."

She said her main concern is about Wisconsin's future.

"As a pediatrician I am deeply concerned about the harmful effects of PFAS," She said. "Children and infants are at far greater health risks because they drink more water in proportion to their weight. Their brains and organs are developing rapidly and they have a longer life to accumulate this toxin."

"I thought that her comments about how PFAS can be passed from breast milk to a newborn child as well was particularly alarming," Donahue said.

The "#PFAS Free Wisconsin" movement organizers said their mission is to make health risks more known so more testing is done.

"Many would think that public water utilities in Wisconsin are already testing for PFAS," Midwest Environmental Advocates or MEA executive director Tony Wilkin said. "But the truth is most municipal water supplies in Wisconsin have not been tested."

The movement's aim is to communicate why Wisconsinites should care about getting their wells tested, how to advocate for themselves and to educate legislators on the issue.

The campaign is supported in part with funding from the "Freshwater Future" grant program.

You can read more about the campaign's goal here.

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Marcus Aarsvold

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