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PFAS foam on surface waters or other locations in the Marinette and Peshtigo area

The DNR has received notifications of foam in the Peshtigo River and other areas in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas. This foam may or may not contain PFAS. The movement of wind and waves on lakes and turbulence in rivers and streams can naturally create foam that floats on top of the water or accumulates along the shore.

In order to determine if the reported foam sightings are related to PFAS, the DNR has developed an intake process that allows for us to mobilize a team of samplers where a verified foam event is occurring.

Report a foam event in the Marinette and Peshtigo area

TO REPORT A FOAM EVENT DNR will need detailed information about the location and nature of the foam.

Call 888-626-3244 or email with the following information.

  1. Contact information for the person reporting the event (i.e. name, address, phone number, email, etc.) – we may need to call you back for additional details.
  2. Where exactly the foam is located – name/location of surface water body or property where foam is present; please be as specific as possible (i.e. 300 ft downstream of the dam in the City of Peshtigo), GPS coordinates or a Google map would be helpful.
  3. Date and time the foam first observed and is it still present.
  4. How much foam is present, length by width by thickness (best guess).
  5. Characteristics of foam (i.e. color, contiguous mass or numerous clumps, floating on the surface or accumulating along the shore, etc.)
  6. Whether it is a floating mass of foam or small tufts, which direction it is moving.
  7. Is the foam collecting in specific areas?
  8. Any knowledge of prior foaming events at this location, or known/suspected PFAS sources?
  9. Optional but helpful: wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, recent precipitation (when)
  10. Optional: identification of nearby outfalls or industrial sources, water agitation sources (dam, significant wind)
  11. Optional but helpful: If you took photographs of the foam, please email pictures to along with the above information.


How can I tell if the foam on my lake/stream is natural or from PFAS or some other contaminant?

Generally, you can tell if the foam is naturally occurring or may contain PFAS foam by observing the following characteristics.

PFAS contaminated foam

  • Can have bright white coloring
  • Tends to pile up like shaving cream
  • Can be sticky
  • May blow inland and collect on lakeshores and river banks
  • Is usually lightweight
Example of PFAS foam
Example of PFAS foam.

Naturally occurring foam

  • Is off-white and/or brown
  • Often accumulates in bays, eddies or river blockages
  • May have an earthy or fishy aroma
Example of naturally occurring foam
Example of naturally occurring foam.
Is PFAS foam harmful?

Swallowing foam with PFAS could be a risk to your health. Avoiding foam with PFAS is protective of everyone, including young children, and is a recommendation supported by Wisconsin's Department of Health Services.

PFAS do not move easily through the skin, but it's always best to rinse off after contact with foam to avoid accidentally swallowing PFAS.

DHS recommends that people not allow their pets to come into contact with or swallow foam. Since pets could swallow foam collected in their fur when grooming themselves, we recommend you rinse pets off with fresh water.

I reported PFAS foam on the lake/river. Why wasn't it sampled?

The DNR conducts an on-site field verification of foam sightings before mobilizing contractor sampling teams. If a foam sighting has been reported some number of days after the foam was first seen, it may have dissipated before a sampling team would be able to retrieve it. DNR staff may have also sampled an area where foam sightings have been reported multiple times and are awaiting analytical sample results before conducting sampling in the same location again.