Knowledgeable and neutral research scientists are key
My response is about the statement about research scientists and the MPCA.
I live in Harmony Minnesota but work in Preston Minnesota and lived in Preston for several
years. So my thoughts about all of this information about 3M is colored by the
tire plant controversy and also the fact that 3M is like a family
company in that three generations of my family have and are working for 3M.
better place for neutral scientists to be other than a government body? I am not
so naive as to believe appointments would not be politically motivated, but at
least they may have to go thru some kind of vetting process and legislative
approval. We need knowledgeable and independent people in positions that are so
vital to the public health.
Ruth Grant Harmony, MN
We must continue to learn more about managing the chemicals, disposal
I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop since 3M's announcement of
discontinuing production of Scotchgard in 2000. Nothing was really said
until this story. In the 1970's I worked in the "structural pest control"
industry here in Minnesota. When I started the EPA was just pulling Chlordane
from the approved usage list. The short story is Chlordane was one of the few
remaining compounds from the DDT years. The proper way to dispose of this
product was to continue to use the product according to the manufacturer's label
until product was gone.
What I find disturbing to me is the way 3M (according to MPCA timeline) in
200-2002 Chemlite dumped 10,000 pounds of PFCs into the Mississippi. I am sure
even 3M would admit that would hardly be an approved labeling for destroying
I have an associate that owns land in southern Minnesota that has caves where one can
reach the 2nd aquifer. He has told me how he has taken water from this aquifer
and had it tested for purity. Pollution from industry and agriculture has penetrated to this level of
our drinking water and this is far and away from the Twin Cities.
Until the burning ban in the Twin Cities residences, public dumps and industry
would burn their waste or trash items. In the interest of keeping our
environment clean namely our air, regulators instituted the burning ban as well
as regulations on filtering smoke from industrial smoke stacks. The toxic wastes
that we use to burn into the air is now contained and thrown into our landfills,
which are now leaching these toxic substances into our aquifers.
Our knowledge of our environment is greater today than it was just a few short
years ago; imagine how much more we will know about it tomorrow.
Jerry Geist Savage, MN
Protect the people and the environment
I have been diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities syndrome. The 3M
product is only one of many that have enjoyed the protection of the "sound
science" philosophy. Very little funding is available for independent research.
The EPA seemingly accepts the chemical industries evaluation of itself. (Much
like the current EPA CHEERS program.) Those charged with the "protection" of the
environment have failed in their duties by remaining agnostic.
Tom Knight St. Joseph, MI
Is 3M really the most evil Minnesota polluter?
Aside from the class action lawsuits which may or may not be litigated, it appears that 3M is operating fairly openly
and within the bounds of the laws and science at the time the pollution
occured. The fact that they voluntarily stopped using PFCs suggests that they
are probably better citizens than many.
On the other hand, what about some of our more subtle (and not so subtle)
polluters like Koch Oil, IBP, numerous municipal waste treatment facilities,
just to mention a few. I'm far more concerned about the long term effects of
known chemical and biological pollutants than the effects of PFCs that may, or
may not be a hazard.
Marsh Jones New Brighton, MN
Another model of toxicology
There is no mention at all about the alternative model of
toxicology that focuses on endocrine disruption. This model is put forth by the
book "Our Stolen Future". It says that
even in very small amounts it can disrupt the bodies normal functioning by
mimicking the actions of hormones. This result can affect the development of
children resulting in effects that may be hard to trace to the chemicals
Steve Tuckner Roseville, MN
Report on 3M's use of PFOA and PFOS
As an engineer who was very close to the fluorochemical issue at 3M, I commend
your report for being one of the most factual and unbiased ones I have heard. I
am no longer with 3M, partly because the stress I had dealing with the
fluorochemical issue and other 3M environmental issues led to personal problems
that I could not resolve to 3M's satisfiaction. Nonetheless, the continuing
issues around FS's continue to disturb me.
While your report focused on the popular Scotchgard fabric treatment, you didn't
thoroughly go into the other uses of the FC chemistry which pobably caused the
widespread environmental contamination. PFOA nad PFOS are also components
found in 3M's Lightwater Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or AFFF (aka "A triple F").
This chemical was used widely (and still is around) in the foams used in
putting out petroleum fires. Notably, thousands of gallons were used to put out
the Kuwaiti oil fires in the early 90's. Not only was AFFF the US Navy's
chemical of choice for petroleum fires, the largest use of it was in training
exercises. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is being found around the
world. The Decatur, ALabama plant had a large AFFF testing area that I believe
is the subject of a remediation study.
You didn't mention that for many years, the Decatur plant spread sludge from its
wastewater treatment plant on 3M owned adjacent farmland as a fertilizer.
Fluorochemical production cell "bottoms" which contained PFOA and PFOS were a
component of this sludge.
Closer to home, you reported correctly that water from the Woodbury landfill
site is being used at the 3M Cottage Grove plant. Most of this water does not
receive treatment for FC removal and is being discharged to the Mississippi
River. Water pumped from beneath the plant iteslf is also contaminated with
FC's. Although much of this water is treated through activated carbon
filtration columns, a significant portion is not. This water either is used for
cooling water and is intentionally not treated, or is used at the 3M incinerator
at the site. Only a part of the water used at the incinerator is treated
because of design flaws in the carbon treatment system. To my knowledge, this
problem has not yet been resolved.
The source of the contamination at the Cottage Grove site continues to be under
investigation. The company has been studying ways to treat all water under the
plant as a "contingency" plan. This may result in constuction of another carbon
filtration system at the site or relocation of the wells to supply water to the
site although this latter option still doen't fully address the contamination
Part of the diffuculty in this whole issue is the cost of analyzing water for
PFOA and PFOA. It costs $1400 per sample to run the test. Therefore, it is
costly to track the source or direction of contamination. While 3M has been
doing a fairly responsible job in this, the cost issue does come up when such
studies are proposed.
As for the MPCA involvement with the issue, my understanding is that the MPCA
was looking at the environmental aspects of the chemistry and the MN Department
of Health was supposed to look at the human health effects. This is the proper
approach. While the direct human health effects still have yet to be
determined, it is prudent to minimize use and human exposure to these