MARINETTE — In addition to an update on the facilities study, the Marinette School District Board of Education received an update on the per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination study during Tuesday’s meeting.

Facilities Director Tom Tickler said recent tests on drinking water, irrigation wells and the drainage ditch on school property had come back, and based on those tests he said there was good news.

“With drinking water, we are connected to the city water source,” he said, “and that’s been deemed safe for consumption, so everything there comes out of city water; we are safe.”

Tickler said the irrigation wells were tested for both perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two types of PFAS compounds.

“It took a while to get those back; they did a very thorough set-up,” he said. “We actually set our wells up for continued testing as we go forward, so that’s easy to do now. Those both came back with no detected.”

“The drainage ditch we know tested much higher than the allowable consumption levels through the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency),” Tickler added. “One of the things we’ve been talking about frequently with the Department of Health that’s been an area of concern from most citizens we’ve heard from is dermal exposure. Their feedback to us is that they’re not very concerned with dermal exposure; it does not absorb through skin in any way like how it would if you were ingesting it.”

He said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) did suggest that, if anyone goes into the drainage ditch and is “splashing around or wading in it,” those people should wash with soap and water if dermal exposure is a concern for them.

Tickler said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has instructed Johnson Controls to post signage at the site.

“They have a certain number of days to respond with a plan,” he said. “They’ll have to contact everybody that has a water fountain in the area that could be contaminated. They’ll provide that to the DNR, and then once the DNR approves that plan, they’ll have 14 days to get those postings made.”

“Everything we went through has come back, in my mind, as a positive response for this,” Tickler added. “As we go forward we will continue to monitor the situation. We’re working closely with the city, the Department of Health and the DNR to make sure that anything that comes up as a concern, we’ll address it and make sure we’re communicating with the families.”

Tickler said much of the information he discussed is included in a letter that went out to all of the Marinette School District families after the meeting.