MPR News with Angela Davis

What’s in our water?

water flowing out of a faucet
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a large class of human-made chemicals originally developed in Minnesota by Maplewood-based 3M back in the 1940s. PFAS have been found in water, soil, wildlife and humans around the globe.
Steve Johnson for Pexels

Whether it’s flowing out of your kitchen faucet or along a creek near your campground, we expect our water to be safe.  

But sometimes our water can make us sick. Waterborne diseases are a growing problem as Minnesota’s climate warms. And we’re only now beginning to understand the health consequences of “forever chemicals” called PFAS that have seeped into our waterways.  

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with a state epidemiologist about how you can avoid getting sick from swimming in lakes or pools. And a public health professor explains his research into human-made chemicals in the water supply.  

two experts on water talking to Angela
MPR News host Angela Davis (left) talks with Matt Simcik and Trisha Robinson in an MPR News studio in St. Paul on Wednesday.
Matthew Alvarez | MPR News


  • Trisha Robinson is an epidemiologist and the supervisor of the Waterborne Disease Unit with the Minnesota Department of Health.   

  • Matt Simcik is a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on how and why organic pollutants end up in the atmosphere and water.  

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