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Despite historic 3M PFAS payout, Minnesota communities need millions more for cleanup

The state of “forever chemicals” in Minnesota water
The state of “forever chemicals” in Minnesota water 01:59

MINNEAPOLIS — You can find PFAS in cookware, cosmetics and cleaning supplies to name a few.

They're known as "forever chemicals" and some of them are linked to big health problems.

When some communities in Minnesota turn on the tap, their drinking supply source has high levels of PFAS. That's especially true in the east metro, home of 3M, which six years ago settled with the state for $850 million for disposing the chemicals and contaminating drinking water and our environment — one of the largest settlements of its kind in the country.

RELATED: PFAS in Minnesota: How "forever chemicals" changed the state of water

That money for cleanup is being put to use right now.

"That comprehensive drinking water supply plan has accounted for or budgeted every dollar of the grant and then some to deal with the need to do capital buildout, largely filtration or other treatment systems," said Special Assistant Attorney General Peter Surdo.

Surdo told state lawmakers that some local communities will also get a slice of a multi-billion settlement from a federal class action lawsuit against 3M. The funds will be paid out over many years, but shared across the country.

RELATED: Food packaging containing toxic "forever chemicals" no longer sold in U.S., FDA says

"I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but it is bad news that there just isn't enough dollars available from manufacturers of these compounds to cover the need that we now have as a society to deal with the PFAS problem that exists," he said.

A new state law passed last year will ban PFAS in some consumer products starting in 2025 with a full ban in 2032. But prevention is only one part of the solution.

Cleanup is key, and policymakers admit it will cost a lot of money.

"This will require an extremely large wallet if the state is going to pick it up, and that's one we don't have," said Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul.

Some communities like Woodbury and St. Louis County want lawmakers to approve funding for PFAS mitigation in their infrastructure package this year.

RELATED: Skiers, including Jessie Diggins, adjust to using wax without PFAS

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