Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1977–1992 | Cite as

PFOS and PFC releases and associated pollution from a PFC production plant in Minnesota (USA)

  • Fardin Oliaei
  • Don Kriens
  • Roland Weber
  • Alan Watson
11th Forum of the International HCH and Pesticide Association


Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and PFOS-related substances have been listed as persistent organic pollutants in the Stockholm Convention. From August 2012, Parties to the Convention needed to address the use, storage, and disposal of PFOS—including production sites and sites where PFOS wastes have been deposited—in their national implementation plans. The paper describes the pollution in Minnesota (USA) caused by the 3M Company at one of the largest per/polyfluorinated chemical (PFC) production facilities. From early 1950s until the end of 2002, when 3M terminated PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) production, PFOS, PFOA, and other PFC production wastes were disposed around the plant and in local disposal sites. Discharges from the site and releases from deposits caused widespread contamination of ground and surface waters including local drinking water wells. Fish in the river downstream were contaminated with PFOS to levels that led to fish consumption advisories. Human exposures resulted from ingesting contaminated drinking water, requiring installation of water treatment facilities and alternate water supplies. The critical evaluation of the assessments done revealed a range of gaps in particular of human exposure where relevant exposure pathways including the entire exposure via food have not been taken into consideration. Currently, the exposure assessment of vulnerable groups such as children or Hmong minorities is inadequate and needs to be improved/validated by epidemiological studies. The assessment methodology described for this site may serve—with highlighted improvements—as a model for assessment of other PFOS/PFC production sites in the Stockholm Convention implementation.


PFC PFOS production Contaminated site Landfill Drinking water Human exposure 

Supplementary material

11356_2012_1275_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 2284 kb)
11356_2012_1275_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (483 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fardin Oliaei
    • 1
    • 2
  • Don Kriens
    • 2
    • 3
  • Roland Weber
    • 4
  • Alan Watson
    • 5
  1. 1.Cambridge Environmental ConsultingCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)Saint PaulUSA
  3. 3.Harvard UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.POPs Environmental ConsultingGöppingenGermany
  5. 5.Public Interest ConsultantsSwanseaUK

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