Environmental Health Division
Minnesota Department of Health
Ginny Yingling is a senior hydrogeologist in the Environmental Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Health. She works with a team of Health Risk Assessors to evaluate human exposures to harmful chemicals in drinking water related to man-made contaminated sites. Since 2003, she has been the agency’s lead investigator of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (or PFAS).
Ginny holds a bachelor of science degree from Penn State, and a master of science degree from the University of Wyoming, both in geology. She has over 25 years of experience working on contaminated sites - first as an environmental consultant, then at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and at the Department of Health since 2000. She also worked in the non-profit sector for five years, first as the state director of the Clean Water Action Alliance and then for the Northstar Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Ginny is also the co-chair of the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council’s PFAS Team, a group of over 500 environmental professionals drawn from state and federal agencies, academia, industry, consulting, and public interest groups. The team has developed a series of seven factsheets on PFAS, conducts PFAS training events, is developing a PFAS risk communication toolkit, and is preparing a detailed report on the current state of knowledge regarding PFAS.
The Minnesota PFAS Story: Lessons Learned and What’s Next for Addressing the Forever Chemicals
Since 2003, Minnesota has investigated PFAS impacts from four legacy industrial disposal sites that contaminated a suburban-exurban area exceeding 150 square miles, impacting the drinking water supplies of over 140,000 residents served by city water or private wells. Until recently, the investigations focused primarily on identifying groundwater and surface water transport pathways and addressing impacted drinking water supplies. That work continues, but funds from a 2018 settlement agreement have enabled the state to also evaluate other PFAS exposure pathways such as surface water, fish, and foam and collaborate with the impacted communities in designing long-term solutions for clean drinking water and resource restoration. Minnesota, like other states, is also looking forward. The state is working to develop a strategic approach to locate other PFAS release sites and exposure pathways, identify potential on-going PFAS sources, and evaluate what regulatory approaches may be needed to further reduce PFAS releases to the environment. All of this is occurring within the context of ever improving analytical capabilities to detect PFAS, on-going disagreement regarding their human and ecological toxicity, and our limited options for removing these "forever chemicals" from our environment. Join us for a look back on key lessons learned over 15 years of investigation and discussion of what the future may hold.
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