PFAS Pollution from Truax: Emerson East Neighborhood Association of Madison

Dear elected representatives, [listed below]

The Emerson East neighborhood in Madison is nearby the Truax Airfield, the major known source of PFAS (per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances) in the Madison area.

Before Well 15 was taken offline in March 2019, the Emerson East neighborhood received up to 20% of our drinking water from that well. According to Madison Water Utility testing, Well 15 has been contaminated by at least 10 different PFAS compounds. The two most numerous and more studied compounds, PFOA and PFOS, showed increasing concentrations in Well 15 water, from 10 parts per trillion (ppt) in August 2017 to 12 ppt in February 2019.

For comparison, the State of Vermont has set a drinking water standard of 20 ppt for five PFAS compounds. The level of these same five compounds in Well 15 has been measured at 34 ppt, with total levels of the ten detected PFAS compounds reaching 56 ppt.

As residents of the impacted area, we appreciate that our City, County and federal governments are beginning to address the PFAS contamination in Madison and specifically around Truax / Well 15.

We are writing to urge all three levels of government to take timely and collaborative action, to address health concerns, and to identify and remediate the source or sources of the PFAS contamination around Truax. In particular, we ask for:

* A precautionary approach that recognizes much is unknown about the levels above which PFAS compounds have negative health impacts, the possible additive impacts of multiple PFAS compounds, and the impact on vulnerable populations including children;

* A holistic approach that considers the multiple ways in which we and our neighbors could be exposed to PFAS, including drinking water, contaminated fish, and from biosolids or sludge applied to farm fields;

* Rapid action to address health concerns, including the formation of a joint City-County Task Force and financial support from the federal government to remediate the contaminated area or areas around Truax; and

* Meaningful, ongoing outreach to and consultation with affected members of the public, with an emphasis on lower-income families and communities of color.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We will share any response you send through our neighborhood association.


Indira Ceylan and Sara Hinkel

Co-chairs, Emerson East Neighborhood Association 

July 29, 2019

To: Mayor Rhodes-Conway, via email:

Madison Common Council, via email:

County Executive Parisi, via email:

Dane County Board, via email:

U.S. Senator Baldwin, 709 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

U.S. Senator Johnson, 328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

U.S. Representative Pocan, 1421 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515