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Is PFAS a concern for voters during the upcoming elections?

Running water
Posted at 6:44 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 10:31:42-04

PESHTIGO (NBC 26) — When it comes to casting a ballot during next week’s election, some voters across Northeast Wisconsin are considering the impact of PFAS contamination.

PFAS is known as a group of forever chemicals used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), PFAS contamination has been detected in Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities in soil, private wells, and groundwater.

“It’s just very nerve-wracking,” said Andi Rich, a Marinette resident.

For Rich, this issue is going to be a key factor when deciding who to vote for during the elections

“Yes, it’s very much affecting what I’m going to do with our local elections because we can’t afford to continue poisoning ourselves, our families, our loved ones, our neighbors,” Rich said.

But for others also directly impacted by PFAS, this issue isn’t going to be much of a deal breaker.

“I don’t feel as that my life is being threatened at this point,” said Mark Bruemmer, Peshtigo Resident

“I feel fine. No health issues. Like Mark said, I don’t feel threatened for my life from the water,” said Mimi Schahczenski, Peshtigo resident.

The two said that while PFAS is a critical issue, it won’t swing them in a certain direction.

“From the election standpoint, I believe there are some more important issues that really need to be looked at. More towards a national,” Bruemmer said.

“No, it’s not going to determine my vote so much on Tuesday as much as inflation, crime, the border, those kinds of issues. They are much more important in the way I vote,” Schahczenski said.

In the Attorney General race, earlier this year Josh Kaul and Governor Evers filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin manufactures regarding PFAS contamination of Wisconsin's water.  

He has reassured voters he will continue to do what he can when it comes to the PFAS issue.

"I was in Marinette in late 2019. I had a listening session where I heard from people about the impact that the major contamination is having on people's lives. And I heard from people who were worried about their kids drinking the water from the tap. I heard from people who wanted to know why people who were in their high school class, sometimes in their 30s developed severe cancers. I heard from a realtor even who said I can't sell houses if people don't feel safe drinking the water that comes from the tap,” Kaul said in an interview with NBC 26 last week.

NBC 26 reached out to Republic Attorney General candidate Eric Toney about the PFAS issue. Toney’s campaign referred us to an answer from a previous debate regarding the topic of environmental enforcement.

“I will fight to protect our environment. One thing we’ll do is review every single case that has been filed to see what direction we’re going to go. I’m not going to prejudge some cases I haven’t had the chance to look all of the information. But I will protect our environment, I will work with our business leaders, our communities, the DNR to make sure we’re doing that because we have to have clean water, we have to have clean air. That is what my record is as district attorney and that is what I will do as attorney general,” said Eric Toney.