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water contamination

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

Over the past two years, Michiganders across the state have become aware of the chemicals known as PFAS. They first made news when elevated levels were found in more than 20 private water wells in Oscoda. Now, there are 35 known contamination sites around the state.

U.S. Senate chamber
US Senate

More than 20 Michigan residents attended a U.S. Senate hearing on PFAS chemicals in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

Michigan Senator Gary Peters, who convened the hearing, has asked for faster action from the federal government to clean up groundwater that's contaminated by the chemicals.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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

The West Michigan shoe manufacturer at the center of a groundwater contamination saga in Kent County wants manufacturing giant 3M to foot some of the bill for the lawsuits it faces.

Wolverine World Wide is the defendant in more than 140 lawsuits regarding drinking water contaminated with chemicals known as PFAS.

3M used PFAS in products like Scotchgard, and Wolverine used Scotchgard to waterproof shoes for brands like Merrill and Hush Puppies over many years.

PFAS have been linked in animal studies to some forms of cancer and other health problems.

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

 


PFAS is a family of chemicals often used in the manufacturing of nonstick and waterproof products. In the past several years, the chemicals have been showing up in high levels in people's drinking water across the state.

News came out Wednesday that a report on the dangers of PFAS exposure had been blocked by officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House. 

Alexis Temkin is a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group in Washington D.C. She spoke with Stateside on the implications of this new development. 

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A report on the dangers of PFAS exposure that was suppressed by the EPA was released today.

The report details the health effects of PFAS and recommends the advisory level for these chemicals be made stricter.

Emails that surfaced last month found that the EPA feard a "public relations nightmare" would ensue once the report was made public. 

Water filter
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Plainfield Township installed a PFAS filter at its water treatment plant this week.

The new filtration system will remove a family of chemicals known as PFAS, which have been found at low levels in township water.

Dripping faucet
Aunt Jojo / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

The EPA held a national PFAS Summit in Washington on Tuesday to dive into issues surrounding the per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances which have contaminated groundwater in sites across the country, including 31 known sites here in Michigan. 

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

Michigan will spend $1.7 million to test water supplies around the state for certain kinds of industrial chemical contaminants. The chemicals are known as PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A group of lawmakers wants more federal money to address drinking water contamination around the state.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee and U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters included money for PFAS contamination in their latest budget bill.

The family of toxic chemicals, known as PFAS, have been linked to certain forms of cancer as well as other health issues.

BRYCE HUFFMAN / Michigan Radio

News that the state of Minnesota recently settled a lawsuit against 3M caught our eye. That's the company whose chemicals were used by Wolverine Worldwide to water-proof shoes – chemicals that have now contaminated drinking water in the Grand Rapids area.

The $850 million settlement was over water contamination from similar chemicals that are all part of a broader group called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

A Kent County woman believes groundwater contamination caused complications during her pregnancy, and that PFAS exposure may be to blame for the newborn's death.

Wolverine Worldwide is the shoe manufacturer believed to have contaminated groundwater near Rockford with PFAS. That's a family of chemicals often used to waterproof leather.

Ashlee Naffziger lived in Rockford for about 13 years before moving out of her mom’s house. She was on private well water during that time.

Van Etten Lake in Oscoda, Michigan
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

People who live in Oscoda are concerned about foam containing toxic chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances – or PFAS – that keeps appearing on Van Etten Lake.

The serene lake in Northeast Michigan is surrounded by trees and houses. But it also has foamy stuff that looks like soap scum floating along its shores.

Residents are wondering why the state isn’t doing more about it.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Some Plainfield Township residents left the open forum to discuss municipal water with more questions than answers last night.

The community north of Grand Rapids is dealing with ongoing groundwater contamination.

The toxic chemicals known as PFAS are in the municipal water, but township officials say it tested below the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

Residents were supposed to be allowed to speak to township officials one-on-one about their water and the township’s potential changes to the municipal system.

Ross and Donna Tingley
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

At least 14 communities in Michigan have water contaminated with a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

One of those sites, in West Michigan, has gotten a lot of attention recently. This month, the state abruptly announced a cleanup standard for PFAS.

But these chemicals have been a pollution problem in the state for years.

In Oscoda, some residents are wondering why remediation is taking so long.

Judge's gavel with books on a desk
Pixabay.com

The state has filed a lawsuit against the shoe company believed to have caused ongoing groundwater contamination in Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants Wolverine Worldwide to come up with a timeline for the remediation.

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Michigan has set new cleanup rules for chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources all around the state. The chemicals in question are per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

They were used in firefighting foam and in a wide range of products, from fast-food paper wrappers to textiles and carpeting, pesticides, printing inks, and more. They have since been linked to some cancers and other health problems.

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

Residents in Kent County might have to wait a bit longer before they know all of the health effects of the chemicals in their groundwater.

A study about the effects of PFAS exposure is being delayed while Kent County officials get help from federal health experts.

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

On Monday, environmental activist Erin Brockovich spoke at a west Michigan town hall.

She was there in support of a class-action lawsuit filed against three companies – 3M, Wolverine Worldwide, and Waste Management.

The suit accuses them of dumping toxic waste and polluting the groundwater in several areas of Kent County with a family of chemicals known as PFAS, which stands for per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Erin Brockovich speaking to West Michigan residents at town hall meeting
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brockovich wants West Michigan residents to join a class action suit against shoe manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide.

Brockovich held a town hall meeting Saturday to let residents know what work she has done and plans to do for them.

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