Archived Story

Residents may learn about chemicals found in drinking water [UPDATED]

Published 9:34am Friday, June 21, 2013 Updated 11:36am Friday, June 21, 2013

Each year, the Minnesota Department of Health conducts studies to identify contaminants that can be found in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and drinking water. With newly developed ways to identify these contaminants, the MDH Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Program has awarded the Ottertail Community Health Board (OTCHB) a grant to help inform community members in the counties of Clay, Wilkin, Becker and Otter Tail of chemicals that may be found within their drinking water and how organizations can help to prevent further contamination.

Rumor Has It Public Relations (RHI) will be collaborating with the OTCHB to recruit partners to participate in an assessment of the site to identify potential sources of contamination, as well as communicate and educate the public about contaminants of emerging concern. The project will also educate participating sites how to properly dispose of such contaminants.

According to the MDH CEC Program website, chemicals such as: pharmaceuticals, pesticides, personal care products, plasticizers and flame retardants can find their way into the water through storm run offs, septic and city sewer systems as well as personal use and improper disposal of chemicals.

According to MDH CEC Program website:

What are contaminants of emerging concern?

A contaminant is generally a substance that is in a place where it doesn’t belong. Contaminants of emerging concern are substances that have been released to, found in, or have the potential to enter Minnesota waters (groundwater or surface water) and:

• do not have Minnesota human health-based guidance (how much of a substance is safe to drink);

• pose a real or perceived health threat; or

• have new or changing health or exposure information.

They can include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial effluents, personal care products that are washed down drains and processed by municipal wastewater treatment plants, and others.

Why are we studying contaminants of emerging concern?

New contaminants are being found in Minnesota waters. This is due, in part, because:

• there are better methods for finding substances at lower levels;

• additional substances are being looked for;

• new substances are being used; and

• old substances are being used in new ways.

The work of this program helps MDH understand the potential health effects of these contaminants.

The MDH Program, “supports the Clean Water Fund charge to protect drinking water sources and the MDH mission to protect, maintain, and improve the health of all Minnesotans,” states the MDH CEC website.

Through partnership with Rumor Has It PR and the OTCHB, citizens of the four participating counties will remain up to date on sources of contaminants as well as being given the resources to know how to properly dispose of such contaminants.

RHI is currently seeking five organizations in each of the four participating counties interested in partnering with OTCHB in the program. Contact Leslie Staker at 218-280-2277 or by email at

For more information about the Contaminants of Emerging Concern Program, visit website at: guidance/dwec/cecinfosheet.pdf .

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