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Wisconsin DNR moves ahead with PFAS pollution rules

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s natural resources policy board on Wednesday moved ahead with implementing new regulations limiting toxic “forever chemicals” in the state’s water supply, the next phase in a process that could take more than two years to complete.

The Natural Resources Board vote will allow the state Department of Natural Resources to begin writing regulations to limit the amount of certain fluorinated compounds — collectively known as PFAS, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

The agency is already in the process of crafting numerical limits for two of the most studied PFAS compounds based on recommendations from the Department of Health Services.

The new regulations will address 16 additional PFAS compounds, as well as six pesticides, that the DHS last year said pose a threat to public health. PFAS have been linked to cancer, liver disease and thyroid problems, and may interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines.

Groundwater standards would allow the DNR to identify sources of contamination and force polluters to pay for cleanup. Drinking water standards would require water utilities and other organizations to test and filter water for public consumption, which the DNR estimates will cost more than $10 million every two years.

The rulemaking process typically takes about 2½ years, involves public input and requires final approval from the governor and Legislature.

The DNR received 125 comments in support of moving ahead and 10 from industry groups, municipalities and water utilities that oppose rules or want the DNR to wait for the federal government to set limits, which could take six years or more.

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