Drinking water supplies in more than a dozen communities are being sampled to see if perfluorochemicals from firefighting foam are present in the water.
The Minnesota Department of Health will test water in locations that are near fire training sites that used what's called Class B foams.
Class B foams are effective in fighting petroleum spills and fires that threaten public health and safety. But when the substance is used repeatedly at fire training sites, PFCs have been found in the soil and groundwater.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency surveyed nearly 800 fire departments in the state last year to see which ones had used Class B foams containing PFCs. Approximately two-thirds of the departments have responded so far.
Superfund supervisor Doug Wetzstein says his agency is looking first at communities that have the greatest potential for PFC contamination.
"The primary interest is fire training sites where there was repeated use of Class B foams that may be near drinking water supplies," said Wetzstein. "For the MPCA, surface waters are of interest. So that's what the whole investigative effort is about."
The communities where the testing sites are located are: Apple Valley, Bemidji, Brooklyn Center, Burnsville, Cloquet, Goodview, Luverne, Perham, Pierz, Pine River, Randall, Richfield, Rochester and Winona.
The investigation is one of more than a dozen state research projects undertaken since a 2007 agreement with 3M to clean up PFC contamination at four east metro disposal sites.