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Environment & Climate Change

PFAS chemicals have contaminated water across MI. Here’s what that means for public health, clean up

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman
/
A rusty barrel near the House Street dump site once used by Wolverine Worldwide in Plainfield Township.

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.

PFAS are a popular group of chemicals in many industries and have been used in firefighting foam and making non-stick surfaces.

There's reason to worry: These chemicals have contaminated 28 sites in 14 communities around Michigan that we know of today. Governor Snyder has created the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team to address the problem.

David Savitz, a professor of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health, is the team's academic advisor. He joined Stateside to discuss the health risks of PFAS and the best ways to approach contaminated sites.

Listen to the full conversation above. 

(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)

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