A member of a class of chemicals once manufactured by 3M has been detected by the state Health Department in municipal wells in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, South St. Paul, Newport, Woodbury and Hastings.
The department announced Friday that low levels of a compound called perfluorobutanoic acid, or PFBA, was found in the wells southeast of St. Paul.
"Finding this chemical at low levels does not pose an immediate health risk for residents," said John Linc Stine, Health Department director of environmental health, in a news release.
He said the department needs to investigate further and consider steps for reducing people's long term exposure. "Our toxicologists are currently evaluating the limited scientific information available on PFBA," he said.
PFBA is part of a class of chemicals called perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, which were made locally by 3M Co. at its Cottage Grove plant from the 1940s until 2002. Other companies around the country also made the chemicals, but the department said PFBA was made by 3M in Cottage Grove.
Perfluorochemicals were used by 3M in the manufacturing of stain repellents, such as early versions of Scotchgard. They were also used in fire retardants, pesticides and other household and industrial products.
A message from The Associated Press seeking comment from Maplewood-based 3M was not immediately returned Friday.
Two other perfluorochemicals chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, were detected two years ago in water supplies in Oakdale and Lake Elmo. 3M recently paid for a new $2.5 milion treatment facility to remove the chemicals from Oakdale's water supply.
3M disposed of industrial waste at three area landfills, which are the suspected sources of the contamination.
The Health Department reports that in laboratory animal studies, high concentrations of perfluorochemicals cause harmful changes in the liver and other organs. However, the department notes there have been few human studies.
According to the department's Web site, studies by 3M of its workers who were exposed to the chemicals during manufacturing showed no apparent damaged to their health.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)