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PFAS

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Biden campaign platform promises to designate some chemicals in the PFAS family as hazardous substances. That’s something the Trump administration also promised. The EPA completed recommendations more than a year ago and nothing has happened. One report suggests the White House might be holding up those recommendations.

BRYCE HUFFMAN / Michigan Radio

Michigan health officials plan to study the potential long-term health effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure on people in four West Michigan communities.

PFAS are a class of industrial chemicals linked to health problems like cancer, and thyroid disease. Known as “forever chemicals” that remain intact in the environment and human bodies for a long time, PFAS are present in substances ranging from firefighting foam to food packaging.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One chemical in the PFAS family is showing up more often and in greater concentrations in fish.

The PFAS chemical is PFOS.

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Surface water levels of PFAS chemicals have plummeted in a creek that flows into the Huron River, after a state investigation.  

Investigators went upstream from Ann Arbor to try to discover the source or sources after PFAS chemicals showed up in the city's treated drinking water in 2018. 

A main source was discovered to be the Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was discharging PFAS-laden effluent from Tribar Manufacturing, a plating company, into Norton Creek, which flows into the Huron River. 

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

New legislation in the Michigan Senate would increase the timeframe during which legal action could be taken against polluters in Michigan.

Under current state law, the clock on when legal action can be taken starts ticking at the moment pollution occurs.

firefighting foam
Adobe Stock

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed lawsuits against nearly three dozen companies that make firefighting foams, known in the industry as AFFF, or aqueous film-forming foam.

AFFF contains PFAS, a family of chemicals used in many industries, including the firefighting industry. They can persist in the environment for hundreds of years and even longer, and build up in the tissues of fish, animals and humans. PFAS are also linked to illnesses including cancer. 

Adobe Stock

Legislation soon will be introduced in Michigan to ban food packaging that contains toxic chemicals such as PFAS, bisphenols, or phthalates.

Some restaurants stopped using packaging containing PFAS, but some of the biggest chains still do.

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) says it’s time to stop.

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s new PFAS drinking water standards went into effect this week. The restrictions include seven more common chemicals from the PFAS family. Michigan's regulations are among the strictest in the U.S.

Liesl Clark is the Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. She says the state continues to search for the sources of the toxic chemicals in the state. Recently 38 new contaminated sites were identified.

Former Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Air Force met with Oscoda residents on Wednesday to discuss plans for how they'll use millions of dollars earmarked for cleanup of the former Wurtsmith Air Force base.

The former airbase has been a known source of PFAs pollution for nearly 10 years, leading to “do not eat” advisories for local wildlife and warnings posted around the local lake.

PFAs are a family of chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems found at sites across the state, including at Wurtsmith.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Michigan congressman wants to see the United States Air Force focus more on cleaning up PFAS contamination at a former Air Force base in northern Michigan.

Representative Dan Kildee (D-Flint) says there's been too much focus on studying the problem.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan firefighters have new rules for when they use firefighting foam containing industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Research into the Defense Department’s records finds hundreds of military installations are contaminated with PFAS. The toxic substances are confirmed to be in the tap water or ground water in 328 military sites. They’re suspected in the water at 350 more sites. (See map here.)

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Michigan could have new PFAS rules in place as early as April. That's after the Environmental Rules Review Committee approved the proposed rules Thursday.

The committee voted to approve a set of draft rules regulating the industrial contaminants, which includes drinking water standards for seven types of PFAS.

A rusty barrel in the woods
Bryce Huffman

Minnesota-based 3M will pay $55 million to Wolverine Worldwide to address PFAS contamination in Kent County.

Wolverine Worldwide is based in Rockford. It has said it could spend $113 million to meet its obligations in a settlement with the State of Michigan and two townships over PFAS. That money includes $69.5 million to extend a municipal water system to more than 1,000 residences where PFAS has been found in well water.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicates it will take years to regulate PFAS in drinking water, if it does at all. 

The USEPA has proposed to regulate two forms of the thousands of chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances family. PFOA and PFOS were the most commonly used.

DEQ (now EGLE)

Federal district judge Janet Neff approved a settlement agreement between the state of Michigan, two Kent County townships, and Wolverine Worldwide.

Former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, as President Trump pardons a slew of white-collar criminals, some Detroiters are asking for consideration for Kwame Kilpatrick. The former Detroit mayor is serving a lengthy sentence on corruption charges. What would a commutation do for Trump's standing in metro Detroit? Also, a new documentary tells the story of how a lakeside town in West Michigan became contaminated with PFAS.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Many residents in northern Kent County say they're happy with a proposed settlement agreement over contamination from chemicals known as PFAS in the area, though some said they wish the agreement would go further. 

The Michigan attorney general's office held a forum to hear public comments on its consent decree Monday night in Rockford. More than 100 people showed up.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

State Attorney General Dana Nessel announced that paperwork has been filed on a proposed settlement with Wolverine Worldwide over PFAS contamination.

Nessel’s office announced a tentative agreement in December. The state and two townships in northern Kent County had filed lawsuits against the shoe company for contaminating water with chemicals in the PFAS family.

a man stands in front of a classroom at a white board
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, a Democratic congressman is proposing new regulations for safe disposal of PFAS. Plus, schools around the state are increasingly relying on long-term substitute teachers. We talk about what this means for students, and strategies for getting more certified teachers into classrooms.

a sign that says Flint River along the actual flint river
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, it’s been four years since the state announced a criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis. We talked to two journalists who covered the crisis about lessons learned on government accountability and public health. Plus, the state of Michigan files suit against some of the biggest names in corporate America over PFAS contamination. We'll hear about how a similar case played out in Minnesota. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is suing 17 defendants seeking damages for widespread PFAS contamination. The defendants include industrial giants 3M and DuPont. 

The lawsuit was filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

PFAS are a family of industrial chemicals linked to serious human health issues, including cancer. PFAS have been used in many consumer products and in firefighting foam. 

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s efforts to combat PFAS contamination could get a boost from a bill up for a vote on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Winnie Brinks
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

State officials held the first of three public hearings on Wednesday on plans to set limits on PFAS in drinking water. Certain kinds of the industrial chemicals have been linked to cancer and other health problems.

State Senator Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), spoke during the public hearing. She said elected officials should ensure their residents have clean drinking water.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy is holding three public hearings this month on its plans to set drinking water standards for chemicals known as PFAS.

The public hearings are a part of the state’s plan to establish drinking water standards, sampling requirements, public notification requirements, and laboratory certification criteria.

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Good news for the city of Ann Arbor's drinking water - and the residents who drink it.

The city's Drinking Water Quality Manager, Sarah Page, says tests have detected no PFOS and PFOA compounds in the past five months.  PFOS and PFOA are two of the most worrisome PFAS compounds.

Joel Sanderson at an iron forge
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, we talk to Paul Mitchell, who represents Michigan’s 10th District, about his view on the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Plus, we talk to one of the longest-serving members of the Capitol press corps about his nearly five decades covering Michigan politics.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Wolverine Worldwide says it will pay nearly $70 million to build municipal water systems in two communities affected by PFAS contamination. 

The company used the chemicals to waterproof its shoes for years. The harmful chemicals contaminated the ground and entered into local wells.  The company says it will now pay to build the water systems to connect more than 1,000 properties to municipal water in Algoma and Plainfield Townships. It says the plan is part of a tentative agreement to resolve lawsuits involving the state and townships.

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Congress has reached a final agreement on the annual national defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s bill includes a number of provisions to regulate the chemical family PFAS.

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

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Notre Dame University and Indiana University released a report that found West Michigan shoe-maker Wolverine Worldwide is still using pollutants known as PFAS in its products.

Wolverine has been getting a lot of press the past couple years, because it is a large source of PFAS contamination throughout northern Kent County.

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