PFAS in Madison & Dane County
Dane County is a PFAS contamination site
The Truax Field Air National Guard Base and Dane County Regional Airport are contaminated sites due to their longtime use of firefighting foams that had PFAS. The PFAS washed into the nearby creek and seeped through the soil into the groundwater in the area, impacting a large part of Dane County.
Find out how the PFAS are being cleaned up on WI DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Database.
How PFAS gets into surface waters
Stormwater runoff from Truax Field and the Airport carried PFAS to Starkweather Creek, which transported the PFAS downstream to Lake Monona. Elevated levels of PFAS have been found in Starkweather Creek, Lake Monona, Lake Kegonsa, Lake Waubesa, and Upper and Lower Mud Lake. Wingra Creek and Black Earth Creek also have elevated levels of PFAS. Because of this contamination, fish eating guidelines are in place and we have tips for how to reduce your exposure if you are spending time on the water.
PFAS water standards for our surface waters
There are no current national guidelines for PFAS in surface waters. Wisconsin set surface water standards for PFOA and PFOS, two different PFAS chemicals, in 2022. These standards regulate municipal and industrial discharges under the Clean Water Act. They include requirements to quantify levels for human health protection, for monitoring and compliance schedules, and whether the water is above standards for PFAS. Learn more about surface water standards from the WI Department of Natural Resources.
Low levels of PFAS are in some of our drinking water
PFAS are being found in more and more drinking water supplies, including in Dane County. Federal regulations on PFAS in drinking water are coming in early 2024. Water utilities would then be required to test for them, notify you of results, and take action. Learn more about PFAS in your drinking water and how to reduce your exposure to them.
PFAS are in our biosolids
PFAS are so widespread in our environment and in the products that we use, that a large section of the population already have low-levels of PFAS in our system. We pass these PFAS in our poop and pee when we go to the bathroom. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) treats this wastewater from our homes, releases the treated water into our local surface waters, and recovers the biosolids to use as fertilizer on farm fields. With no national or state standards for PFAS in biosolids, MMSD uses a standard set by Michigan.
Learn more from Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. For information in the rest of Dane County, contact your local sewerage district.