What are PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects.

PFAS Contamination in Madison – and elsewhere – often have significant amounts of firefighting foam in the water.  This PFAS that has been used for decades at military bases for training exercises and putting out fires. Local officials have directed the use of non-PFAS-containing foams but the military still uses them.

The federal government seems to think they can do as they please.  This may be how the lawyers have decided the Constitution can work, but hat’s not how republic works.

The research began to show that these forever chemicals are harmful to living creatures decades ago, in the 1960’s even.  Yet the research was not revealed to the public in any meaningful way by the corporate manufacturers or the military.

PFAS blood testing

Through a project funded by NIEHS, the Silent Spring Institute created this fact sheet that explains the process for testing blood for PFAS levels. More information at

PFAS will continue to be used: 

“Guard officials say the military is trying to phase out the PFAS-based foams by 2024, but no alternative products meet current standards to put out fuel fires in 30 seconds or less. Congress has ordered the FAA to allow the use of fluoride-free foams at commercial airports by this October, assuming they are available. That deadline doesn’t mean much for Burlington, however, since the Guard takes orders from the Department of Defense…”

Toxic Firefighting Foam Complicates Vermont Effort to Phase Out ‘Forever Chemicals’

Safer Chemicals October 5, 2021: FAA must end the use of polluting PFAS firefighting foam

What’s Your PFAS?

Get water quality information from the City of Madison, by address:

PFAS Resources:




Endocrine & Hormone Disruption


Maria Powell, Madison Environmental Justice Organization
PFAS, Soil & water contamination & cleanup

Dr. Beth Neary, Wisconsin Environmental Health Network
Health effects of noise and PFAS

Dane County and Madison Public Health Department
Presentation to the Lakes and Watershed Commission Jan 23, 2020 on PFAS & Fish Advisories with public comments and discussion

What is the Dane County doing to clean up PFAS at the County Airport?
Dane County Attorney, Lakes and Watershed Commission Jan 23, 2020

Related posts (not complete):

Statewide Coalition of 30 Groups Call for Federal Listing of Toxic PFAS Chemicals (Jan 31, 2020)

DHS warns of PFAS in fish from Lake Monona, Starkweather Creek (Jan 15, 2020)

The fight for safe drinking water – Will Madison officials pay attention to the science on PFAS? (Jan 9, 2020)

Truthout: Democrats Back Down From Battle With Defense Department Over PFAS (Nov 14, 2019)

Pat Elder on The US Military & Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)