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PFAS

PFAS firefighting foams are still in use across Michigan

Sep 14, 2018
firefighter
U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Firefighting foams containing PFAS chemicals are a major source of water contamination. But fire departments around Michigan are still using them. Kevin Sehlmeyer is the State Fire Marshal. 

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The state Legislature is back this week and Democrats want to see action on protecting people from chemicals in drinking water.

The term PFAS describes a family of chemicals that’s been used in things like fire-fighting foam. It’s been found in the water of communities all across the state. The chemicals have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting Friday, a new water plant will begin treating contaminated groundwater near the old Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

The base was decommissioned in 1993. But man-made chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been slowly leaching into the neighboring community’s groundwater for decades.  

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority has been awarded a $60,000 grant to investigate chemical contaminants.

The airport, which is on the site of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, is a known site of several chemical contaminants, including PFAs - which are linked to cancer among other maladies.

drinking fountain
Pixabay

As Michigan children return to school, the state still has yet to complete testing to determine if there are contaminants in their drinking water.

For months a special task force has been testing school and municipal water systems for PFAS, a manufactured chemical linked to numerous health problems including cancer.

the flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 


Yesterday, MLive's Ron Fonger published a story detailing what the state knew about PFAS levels in the Flint River before the city switched its water source. 

The Flint River.
Sarah Razak / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

In the spring of 2014, Flint's water source was switched to the Flint River.

We know what happened when that untreated water leached lead from aging pipes, but in his story today for MLive, Flint journalist Ron Fonger revealed that before the water switch even happened, the state tested the Flint River and discovered rising levels of PFAS contamination. 

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Parchment and Cooper Township residents can now safely drink their water. That’s what state and local officials are saying after water tests found PFAS levels were well below the advisory level.

Last month the state declared a State of Emergency in Parchment, a city near Kalamazoo, after high levels of chemicals known as PFAS were found in its water system.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) would like to see legislative hearings this fall into a report that state officials were aware of high PFAS levels detected in the Flint River before the city of Flint starting using it as its drinking water source.

MLive.com reports, while state officials were aware of the test results, they did not appear to inform Flint city leaders.

PFAS foam washing up on the shore of Van Ettan Lake.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The growing PFAS crisis, and the federal government's role in it, will be the subject of a Congressional subcommittee hearing next month.

PFAS are an emerging chemical contaminant that have been found at multiple sites across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer.

State Representative Winnie Brinks
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters wants a much lower enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS compounds.

PFAS compounds are being found at high levels in private wells and municipal water systems across the state.

The chemicals are commonly used to manufacture plastics, paper and leather and have been linked to testicular, ovarian and kidney cancer.

Lisa Wozniak, the Executive Director of the MLCV, says the current advisory level of 70 parts per trillion isn’t safe for children.

DEQ map
MDEQ

The state found high levels of industrial chemicals in two Kalamazoo County cities, but it’s unlikely they have the same source of contamination.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found chemicals known as PFAS in 26 private wells in Richland Township and nearby Parchment. Both are in Kalamazoo County.

Maps from the DEQ shows that it found 13 wells in each city with PFAS concentrations above the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.  

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Some Parchment residents might be using bottled water for longer than they had hoped. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found high levels of PFAS in private wells near Kalamazoo.

More than 110 private wells have been tested, and results are in for about 102 of them. A DEQ spokesperson says the results range from non-detection to 340 parts per trillion – or almost five times the EPA advisory level, which is 70 ppt.

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

Rates of cancer in Kent County where industrial chemicals have been found in the groundwater are not higher than they are in other parts of the state. That's according to a report state and county officials released on Tuesday.

Governor Rick Snyder on construction site
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Parchment residents are one step closer to being able to drink their tap water again.

It’s been two weeks since Parchment residents first learned their water is unsafe to drink. But the state of emergency status hasn’t been lifted yet.

That’s because state officials are waiting for test results to come back showing the water is indeed safe.

Earlier this week, the Kalamazoo City Commission unanimously voted to extend their water system to the neighboring city of Parchment.

kitchen sink
Creative Commons

Parchment residents now have a solution to the ongoing water contamination there.

The Kalamazoo city commission voted unanimously to approve a contract to extend the city’s water system to neighboring Parchment.

Governor Rick Snyder on construction site
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Residents of a southwest Michigan community could soon have a permanent solution to ongoing water contamination.

A person holding a northern pike
Flicker user megankhines / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Health officials are warning people not to eat fish from parts of a southeastern Michigan river because of chemical contamination.

The emergency "Do Not Eat" advisory issued Saturday applies to all fish from the Huron River from Oakland County's Milford to the Livingston and Washtenaw county border. That includes lakes connected by the river, including Kent Lake.

kitchen sink
Creative Commons

Kalamazoo city water could be the best temporary solution to ongoing groundwater contamination in nearby Parchment.

The state found chemicals known as PFAS at high levels in Parchment city water late last week. It declared a state of emergency, and free cases of bottled water were made available for residents.

Parts of Cooper Township were also affected.

PFAS compounds are often used in firefighting foam and waterproofing materials. Some of the chemicals have been linked to thyroid and kidney disease.

Tech. Sgt. David Speicher / U.S. Air Force

U.S. military officials say they're willing to pay for clean drinking water for people near Battle Creek, if tests show groundwater contamination comes from its base there.

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Residents have been lining up to get cases of free bottled water in a Kalamazoo County community.

The state Department of Environmental Quality discovered high levels of contaminants known as PFAS in Parchment city water late last week. The problem also affects some residents in Cooper Township on the same water supply.

Lots of people living in the area have little to no information about these chemicals aside from what they’ve heard on the evening news.

chase and steve moskalik in front of cases of bottled water at Parchment high school
Catherine Shaffer / Michigan Radio

Late last week, Michigan declared a state of emergency in Kalamazoo County. The state told 3,100 residents of Parchment and nearby Cooper Township to stop drinking and cooking with municipal water.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Michigan officials say state agencies will be providing additional help for two communities near Kalamazoo dealing with chemical contamination of the public water system.

The governor's office said Sunday that a state of emergency has been declared for Kalamazoo County over the health concerns in Parchment and Cooper Township, where water test results announced Thursday revealed high levels of substances known as PFAS.

Parchment responds to PFAS crisis

Jul 27, 2018
Maegan Tintari / Flickr

It could be weeks before the water in Parchment, Michigan, is safe to drink, after industrial chemicals known as PFAS were found in its water supply at 20 times the recommended safe level. The recommended maximum safe level of PFAS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion (ppt). Parchment’s water tested at 1,410 ppt.

Michigan Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and a KC-135 Stratotanker fly over their home station of Selfridge Air National Guard Base along the shore of Lake St. Clair in Macomb County, Mich.
Master Sgt. Elizabeth Hollicker / U.S. Air National Guard

 


 New reporting from MLive has found that Selfridge Air National Guard Base is a major source of chemical contamination in the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

MLive reporter Garrett Ellison filed a Freedom of Information Act requst to obtain the results of water testing done by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the site in February.

This data indicated five stormwater drainage outfalls near the air base had tested positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl – or PFAS – contamination. 

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The state will reimburse Kent County for some 8,000 hours it's spent working on groundwater contamination.

Downtown Battle Creek
battlecreekcvb / flickr

The state found two private drinking wells in Battle Creek with high levels of PFAS.

The Department of Environmental Quality tested wells near the Air National Guard base in Battle Creek. The state was already aware that firefighting foam containing PFAS was used on the base for decades.

PFAS have been linked to several health issues, including testicular and kidney cancer.

Scott Dean, communications director with the DEQ, says the department will continue testing.

MDEQ map
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

In response to concerns about groundwater contamination, the city of Kalamazoo told Richland Township residents Wednesday night it could extend its water system to the township. 

This map shows areas of concern in the Oscoda area.  PFAs has been slowly spreading for the former U.S. Air Force base for decades.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Several Michigan members of Congress are sending a letter to the Trump administration requesting stronger safeguards for dangerous chemicals in drinking water.

A recent Harvard study found six million Americans are drinking water contaminated with a group of chemicals,  per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, better known as PFAS.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of liver damage and pregnancy problems, among other health issues.

Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

The state of Michigan could soon be taking legal action against the company that manufactures Scotchgard.

Governor Snyder asked the state’s Attorney General Bill Schuette to initiate legal action against the company because it makes products that use PFAS.

PFAS is a group of chemicals that are the source of ongoing water contamination around the state.

The chemicals have been linked to changes in liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function in animal studies.

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