Special to the EagleHerald/WisconsinEye
Co-authors on two bipartisan and comprehensive PFAS regulatory bills for the State of Wisconsin sit side by side to offer their support during a Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy hearing at the State Capitol Friday. State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, left,and State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, were among many people (both opponents and supporters) who spoke in Madison. 
Special to the EagleHerald/WisconsinEye

Co-authors on two bipartisan and comprehensive PFAS regulatory bills for the State of Wisconsin sit side by side to offer their support during a Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy hearing at the State Capitol Friday. State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, left,and State Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, were among many people (both opponents and supporters) who spoke in Madison. 

MADISON, Wis. — About an hour into Friday’s testimony concerning two comprehensive PFAS bills currently in passage through the State of Wisconsin legislature, Vice President of the Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for the Wisconsin Paper Council, Delanie Breuer, made a statement regarding the Paper Council’s opposition to the bills. 

“We also need to keep in mind that a majority of this (PFAS) contamination is from firefighting foam ... Passing a regulation that (will) choke off a lot of our permit holders – industrial and municipal, alike – is a really dangerous precedent for dealing with the unknown science, at this point,” Breuer said.  

It was a statement with which Marinette resident Andi Rich and others might disagree based on testimonies they offered later in the day.  

“(The system) is completely backwards,” Rich said in her statements. “We are trying to figure out what is dangerous after we’ve already been impacted by it.” 

And evidence for “what is dangerous” existed in documents contained by chemical companies like E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and 3M since at least the 1980s, according to records obtained by attorney Robert Bilott. Bilott wrote the book “Exposure,” base on his experience fighting DuPont over PFAS contamination the company caused in a West Virginia community.  

Bilott represented plaintiffs in an early 2000s lawsuit against DuPont ensuing from PFAS contamination and the consequential health impacts to residents living near that company’s factory in Wood County, West Virginia. In March of 2001, he sent a 19-page letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency detailing evidence of the environmental, agricultural and human health impacts of PFAS exposure resulting from DuPont’s release of “thousands of tons” of PFAS into the environment.   

Bilott identified records of studies conducted by DuPont and 3M that showed certain types of PFAS compounds (there are over 4,000) were linked to carcinogenic and other toxic effects in animals like monkeys. Later scientific studies offered further support adverse health effects due to PFAS exposure.