PFAS: Explained | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

PFAS: Explained

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Water activists say the candidates for governor in Michigan are not proposing bold enough plans to fix the state’s water problems.

Activists gathered in Flint to mark “Imagine a Day without Water." The city has become a poster child for Michigan’s issues with everything from tainted tap water to unaffordable bills.

Monica Lewis-Patrick is the president of “We the People of Detroit.” She lays the blame for Michigan’s water issues on outgoing Governor Rick Snyder.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The State of Michigan is finding industrial chemicals known as PFAS in the tissue of fish. So it's been issuing “Don’t Eat the Fish” advisories along lakes, rivers and streams. But there are concerns about whether state officials are doing as much as they should. 

Before we get too far into the story, we have to start with a little science.

The reason PFAS chemical contamination in fish is such a concern is because of something called bioaccumulation.

A map of Michigan shows several orange dots denoting locations where PFAS has been discovered.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

UPDATE: This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.

This week, the Environment Report is looking at industrial chemicals called per- and polyfluoralkyl substances – or PFAS. 

People all over Michigan have questions about these chemicals that are being found in their drinking water.

US Fish and Wildlife Services

 

Today on Stateside, Michigan's opioid overdoses are at an all-time high. What are we doing wrong in the fight against addiction? Plus, as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we take a look into the work the Michigan History Center is doing to represent a larger group of Michiganders.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Overdose deaths continue to rise despite state efforts on opioid crisis

 

A map of Michigan shows several orange dots denoting locations where PFAS has been discovered.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

This spring, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality set out to test 1,300 public water systems for PFAS. So far, it's showed up in 69 places, ranging from large city systems to small mobile home park supplies.

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

This week, we’re looking at PFAS chemicals: they're industrial chemicals that have contaminated water sources around the state.

PFAS chemicals are used to make a lot of products stain and water resistant.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State House Democrats have sent a letter asking the state auditor to investigate the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s handling of the state’s PFAS problem. 

PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals linked to human health problems.

State Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) hopes the state auditor can find answers.

betty ford dancing with husband
Gerald R. Ford Museum

 


Today on Stateside, what does Governor Rick Snyder's agreement with Enbridge Energy actually mean for the future of the Line 5 pipeline? Plus, a conversation with the author of a new book on First Lady Betty Ford's legacy.

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.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One of the contaminated PFAS sites first documented in Michigan was in Oscoda Township near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The base has been closed for years.  Firefighting training there used a fire suppressant foam containing a PFAS chemical.

classroom of kids
NeONBRAND / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, a conversation about the dismal state of special education in Michigan in light of a recent report that names it as the only state in need of federal intervention to help improve special education curriculum. Plus, an environmental health expert talks about the potential health risks associated with PFAS exposure. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

There have been more news stories in recent months about water contamination from a group of industrial chemicals. PFAS chemical pollution seems to have come out of nowhere. That’s not exactly true. PFAS contamination has been known to be a problem. What's different is we’re discovering the problem is bigger than imagined.

In recent months, the State of Michigan has found several places where drinking water and fish are contaminated by a class of chemicals called PFAS. This pollution is coming from a variety of sources.