Cleaning up ‘forever chemicals’ is costly and messy — just ask this Wisconsin town

Read the full story at Grist.

Residents in Peshtigo are exposed to dangerously high levels of a group of toxins known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in their groundwater, the source of their drinking water. PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they are hard to break down in the environment. They’re also linked to high blood pressure in middle-aged women and stunted developmental growth in children, as well as kidney and testicular cancers.

Peshtigo’s PFAS problems stem from a local manufacturing facility that produces firefighting foam — a source of the chemicals so toxic that the Department of Defense recently banned their use. Over decades, a plume of PFAS spread through the community’s vast groundwater networks. Now, residents in this rural part of Wisconsin are forced to use bottled water to cook, clean, and drink until officials find ways to lower the chemicals’ concentrations.

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