The Event

The Doug La Follette Environmental Speakers Program is a biannual event that highlights an environmental issue or topic in an engaging and informative format.

The brand names are so familiar—Scotchguard, Stainmaster, Teflon, Oral-B Glide, Gore-Tex, and the list goes on and on. For more than 70 years, companies have been using a class of chemicals called PFAS in a vast array of consumer products and firefighting foam. Now described as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are the focus of growing concern. Some PFAS compounds do not break down in the environment, and studies estimate more than 98% of us have detectable levels of the chemicals in our blood. High levels of some types of PFAS have been linked to a variety of health risks, including decreased vaccine response in children, increased cholesterol levels, and increased risk of kidney or thyroid cancer.

 

On December 3rd from noon to 1 PM, Clean Wisconsin will host an educational program to answer some important questions about PFAS.

What makes these PFAS chemicals so hard to get rid of? How do they spread through our environment and end up in our food, fish, air, and water supply?

Tune in to see UW Madison aquatic chemist Dr. Christy Remucal answer some pressing questions about these dangerous contaminants. She’ll talk with Clean Wisconsin Water Program Director Scott Laeser about her research focusing on one of the most contaminated areas of Wisconsin, the Marinette and Peshtigo area. Hear how her work follows PFAS pollution from firefighting foam use all the way to Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

This map shows known PFAS contamination sites around the state. PFAS compounds have been detected in drinking water at levels up to 1,900 parts per trillion (ppt), almost 100 times the proposed health-based standard of 20 ppt.

Christy Remucal is an associate professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Director of the Water Science and Engineering Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She holds an MS and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the fate of organic contaminants, including PFAS, in the aquatic environment and in water treatment systems. Christy serves as the UW System representative on the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council

Scott Laeser, Water Program Director, leads Clean Wisconsin’s efforts to address agricultural pollution of Wisconsin’s water resources.  He works with state and local officials, agricultural groups, and other environmental organizations to advance policies to improve water quality in the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams, and improve access to and prevent pollution of Wisconsin’s drinking water.  Clean Wisconsin’s water program advances these goals through legislative work, state agency actions, and public education, and Scott has served on Technical Advisory Committees for important rule-making efforts at the Department of Natural Resources.

Check out our past Doug La Follette event speakers here.