What is PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of manmade chemicals that have been widely used in consumer products since the 1940’s. PFAS can be found in water, soil, air, and food as well as materials found in our homes or workplaces including:

  • Water-repellent clothing, non-stick cookware, paints, sealants, wood stain, and some personal care products.
  • Food packaging: including grease resistant paper, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes and candy wrappers.
  • Food: including fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS and dairy products from livestock exposed to PFAS.
  • Fire fighting foam in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) used to extinguish flammable liquid-based fires.
  • Biosolids – for example fertilizer from wastewater treatment plants that is used on agricultural lands can affect ground and surface water and animals that graze on the land.

-from the Environmental Protection Agency:

What is known about PFAS?

PFAS are widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.

Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.

PFAS are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.

Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.

There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. This makes it challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks.



My property has a private well. How do I know if my well has PFAS?

To learn more about testing private wells for PFAS, safe levels in drinking water, health effects, and ongoing activities, visit Minnesota Department of Health.

 Should I drink bottled water?

At this time, EPA is not recommending bottled water for communities based solely on concentrations of these chemicals in drinking water that exceed the health advisory levels. EPA notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not established standards for PFOA, PFOS, GenX chemicals, or PFBS in bottled water at this time. If you have questions about bottled water, please contact the FDA.


Princeton Public Utilities

US Environmental Protection Agency

Minnesota Department of Health


US Environmental Protection Agency

For more information about these federal developments, visit the EPA webpage Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). This has resources including:

Minnesota Department of Health

We have developed frequently asked questions about PFAS in drinking water to help systems prepare for questions and inquiries. For more resources and information about risk communication, see the Drinking Water Risk Communication Toolkit.  

We will add new information to the MDH webpage PFAS Standards for Drinking Water as it becomes available. More information about PFAS and health effects, treatment, and private wells can be found at the MDH webpage Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). 

We will be updating the PFAS dashboard to incorporate the MCLs in coming weeks. Once it is completed, systems impacted by the MCLs will be contacted and the dashboard will be updated as needed.