fbpx Toxic Chemicals | Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

Ending their use and addressing the harm

Many chemicals once in widespread use have been banned because of the harm they cause to people and wildlife. DDT, PCBs, Dioxin, and asbestos were all once in widespread use, but are now banned. However, there are thousands of chemicals in use today that are known to cause cancer, birth defects or other harms to human health. Many of these chemicals are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Many of these toxic chemicals impact communities in poverty and communities of color the most, as facilities that use them are often sited near these communities. 


MCEA is one reason that Minnesota is a national leader in identifying toxic chemicals and ending their use in favor of safer alternatives. MCEA uses our in-house expertise to identify toxic chemicals, find out where the impacts are heaviest, and create policies that reduce their use and public exposure. In 2020, MCEA was part of a coalition that successfully lobbied for and passed a ban on toxic trichloroethylene (TCE) at the Minnesota Legislature. MCEA also works to address the harmful effects of perflouroalkyl subtances (PFAS) by supporting legislation to establish water quality standards for PFAS.

Rep. Ami Wazlawik

No Minnesotan should experience preventable health risks due to exposure to toxic chemicals. Today, after months of hard work with community members, we were able to pass a strong TCE ban with bipartisan support.

Rep. Ami Wazlawik

What's at Stake

Minnesota continues to be a national leader in identifying and responding to toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, victories like the toxic TCE ban can only prevent future pollution, they can’t clean up past pollution. Minnesotans, particularly metro area residents, are dealing with widespread PFAS pollution of the groundwater that they rely on for drinking and area lakes. MCEA’s approach on toxic chemicals like PFAS is to push for policy changes to clean up pollution and reduce exposure. Meanwhile, emerging science will continue to identify new threats to human health. MCEA is there on the cutting edge - identifying threats as they emerge and using our tools to find solutions. 


By the numbers

33 PFAS polluted lakes

33 lakes require fish consumption advisories, many more are likely to be added

$850 million settlement over PFAS pollution

3M’s settlement was large, but time will tell if it is enough to address the risks

80 permitted TCE users

In 2018, there were 80 facilities using enough TCE to require a permit

1 state that has banned TCE

Minnesota became the first state in the U.S. to ban TCE in 2020