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$23 million could go toward PFAS contamination

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide
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Money might be on the way to help fight perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in Michigan.

 

PFAS is a family of chemicals that’s been discovered in groundwater in 14 communities, and 28 sites, across the state. PFAS chemicals are used in things like flame retardants, cleaning products and food packaging.

 

Sue Leeming is the Deputy Director in the Office of External Relations for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She said dealing with PFAS has been a challenge because it’s an emerging contaminant.

 

“We don’t know specifically what health impacts there might be,” she said. “We’re still doing the research to determine the toxicity levels of a number of the other chemicals in this family. So there’s a lot of unknowns.”

 

The money will be used toward cleanups and testing. Right now there isn’t a lab in the state that can test for PFAS, so it’s been outsourced to other states, which takes longer to get results.

 

Leeming said the money will, “help the state to continue to address the situation state-wide.”

 

The federal government has a health advisory for PFAS in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion. Some areas in Michigan have tests showing PFAS in the thousands of parts per trillion.

 

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard says this isn’t an issue that is going away.

 

“There’s a very good chance that we’re going to have to appropriate more dollars to this,” he said. “But right now we didn’t want to just throw money at the problem, we wanted to ensure that we’re getting out in front of it.”

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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