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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Anne Claflin (DFL)

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Investigating Health Effects of PFAS Exposure

Monday, January 28, 2019

St. Paul, Minn. – The University of Minnesota will lend its expertise in reviewing the potential health effects of exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances under legislation introduced by Senator Karla Bigham (DFL – Cottage Grove) and Representative Anne Claflin (DFL – South St. Paul) on Thursday. The bill, S.F. 518, requires a review of health studies and health assessments conducted by the Department of Health and other institutions and a review of the methodology and data that the Department of Health had available for its assessments and the conclusions drawn from those assessments.

“We want to have the most thorough review possible to determine any possible health impact on our community from potential exposure and the best way to know how is by leaning on the University of Minnesota’s expertise in making this determination,” said Sen. Bigham. “We should see what the data says and let that determine if we need to take further action to address potential health risks.”

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. They have been used in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil. Human exposure to PFAS is considered a public health concern by the Centers for Disease Control.

This an opportunity for experts at the University to review the work that was done at the Department of Health and offer their expertise and analysis,” said Rep. Claflin. “This is an issue that people are concerned about getting right, and it’s important that members of these communities know if there are additional health risks and how we can address them.”

The legislation requires listening sessions with community members and key stakeholders to understand their concerns, perception of risk, and understanding of public health information. It also identifies additional analyses that could use the available data to create a more complete picture of exposure and health risks to community members, review evidence of other potentially exposed populations in Minnesota and advance the understanding of the nature of the risk of PFAS.

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