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PFAS

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

Michigan officials say they’ve reached an agreement with the U.S. Air Force to speed up action to clean up PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda.

The plan includes accelerated action to treat contaminated water and to step up investigating spots where firefighting foam may have been used or tested. Firefighting foam is a known source of PFAS chemicals.

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

A Michigan science advisory workgroup released recommendations on Thursday for the state to implement some of the strictest standards in the nation for PFAS.

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team received health-based recommendations from the workgroup for seven PFAS compounds. It recommends setting drinking water limits as low as six parts per trillion.

Environmental group: EPA not doing enough about PFAS

Jun 6, 2019
Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Following the recent discovery of chemicals known as PFAS in some kinds of food, the Environmental Working Group says the Environmental Protection Agency is not doing enough to deal with PFAS contamination.

Earlier this year, the EPA announced it's moving forward with what it calls an action plan. It could potentially set drinking water standards for two kinds of the chemicals.

 

FDA: Sampling finds PFAS in some food

Jun 4, 2019
Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The Food and Drug Administration found substantial levels of a worrisome class of nonstick, stain-resistant industrial compounds in some grocery store meats and seafood and in off-the-shelf chocolate cake, according to FDA researchers.

The FDA’s food-test results are likely to heighten complaints by states and public health groups that President Donald Trump’s administration is not acting fast enough or firmly enough to start regulating the manmade compounds.

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

Not enough people have taken a PFAS exposure assessment, says Kent County and state health officials.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human services says only 414 people have taken the study so far. Steve Kelso, with the Kent County Health Department, says they still need about 380 people to complete the assessment.

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin
U.S. Congress

U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin introduced a bill that aims to monitor PFAS in drinking water.

The Democratic congresswoman’s bill seeks to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act. If passed it would require public water systems to test for at least 30 types of PFAS.

Rogue River
Trout Unlimited

The EPA has ordered a West Michigan shoe manufacturer to excavate part of the Rogue River.

Wolverine Worldwide used products containing chemicals, including PFAS, at its former tannery in Rockford, about 15 miles north of Grand Rapids.

Attorney General Dana Nessel
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State officials say they expect to bring legal action against manufacturers, distributors, and other responsible parties behind PFAS contamination around the state, and the opioid crisis.

Attorney General Dana Nessel says she is seeking bids from experts to help the state conduct investigations and bring legal action.

Tim Ryan
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan believes gerrymandering could have a big impact on the 2020 election.

The Ohio congressman spoke at a Kent County Democratic Party event in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Ryan says he believes another two or three congressional seats from each state could swing to the left.

“And if you put that on top of what happened in the last election, we could solidify a long term majority,” Ryan said.

Federal judges recently ruled that Michigan and Ohio’s congressional maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans. The judges ordered both states to redraw their maps.

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

State officials are warning Michiganders to completely avoid touching PFAS foam. Previously, they emphasized not ingesting it.

PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of chemicals used in firefighting foam, water-proofing substances, and more. The chemicals have been found in 119 municipal water systems.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Last summer, the state began investigating PFAS contamination is two sites close to Kalamazoo.

Investigations of the former location of Production Plated Plastics in Richland Township and the Crown Village property landfill in Parchment both led to news reports of high PFAS concentrations. And the state is still finding the industrial chemicals in groundwater samples.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Environmental Protection Agency has released draft recommendations for industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

The EPA says the guidance will inform final cleanup levels for groundwater used as drinking water.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A top Pentagon official told an audience in Oscoda on Wednesday that another four years of study are needed on the PFAS contamination seeping from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The industrial chemicals present a threat to human health. They've been used in firefighting foam on U.S. military bases.

John Henderson is an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. He says the Pentagon would like to move faster on cleanup efforts, but it has to be careful.

“We continue to study aggressively, as quickly as we can, what the extent of the problem is,” says Henderson. "So when we do get a solution, it’s the right solution. We get it right the first time.”

Scientists are ramping up research on the possible health effects of a large group of common but little-understood chemicals used in water-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture, nonstick cookware and many other consumer products.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Oscoda residents will meet with high ranking U.S. Air Force officials this week to discuss the cleanup of PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force base.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, John Henderson, will hold a public forum in Oscoda next Wednesday, April 24 at 4 p.m. at the Oscoda Township Community Center.

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

State officials plan to assemble a panel of scientists this week to advise the state on PFAS contamination.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently directed officials to develop drinking water standards for PFAS. The chemicals are linked to health problems, including cancer. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers in Washington DC want veterans to receive full coverage for health problems stemming from PFAS exposure.

The industrial chemicals have been discovered in sites across Michigan and the U.S., many of them military bases.

Dan Kildee testifies before the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations
Dan Kildee

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) is urging legislators to invest more money in cleaning up PFAS pollution at military bases across the country.

Kildee testified Tuesday before Congress.

He says a study from the Government Accountability Office finds more than 400 military sites in the U.S. have "known or potential releases of PFAS after decades of using firefighting foam."

“Clearly the GAO study shows that this is not only impacting my district, but lots of districts all around the country,” Kildee said.

bathtub faucet running
Jacob Barss-Bailey

Michigan will not wait for the federal government to establish drinking water rules when it comes to PFAS chemicals. That’s the class of chemicals that has been linked to a variety of health issues, including kidney cancer.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that she is ordering the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to start its own rule-making process.

person shaking prescription pills from bottle into hand
User: frankileon / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, we look at why people in rural parts of Michigan have difficulty accessing what many doctors consider the most effective treatment for opioid addiction. We also talk about the roots of Islamophobia in the United States, and the financial strain PFAS contamination puts on municipalities.

Water filter
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Plainfield Township could end up paying millions of dollars more than it though due to PFAS.

Residents of Plainfield Township in Kent County, north of Grand Rapids, are dealing with PFAS pollution. State officials believe it was caused by shoe-manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide, and there is ongoing lawsuit addressing who is to blame

Gerald R. Ford International Airport near Grand Rapids
Photo courtesy of the Gerald R Ford International Airport

Samples are expected to be taken from about 49 residential drinking water wells in western Michigan to test for chemical contaminants. Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality says the wells are along Trout Creek in Cascade Township and that the testing is part of its ongoing investigation of potential PFAS contamination sources near the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Environmental activists are accusing the Department of Defense of trying to weaken proposed new cleanup standards for a group of industrial chemicals.

The New York Times reports the DOD is urging the Trump administration to adopt 380 parts per trillion as the new cleanup standard for PFAS in groundwater.

American Sign Language for A - S - L
U.S. Air Force Photo Illustration/Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson

Today on Stateside, Governor Whitmer announced a plan earlier this week to introduce a 45 cent gas tax by October 2020. Are there enough road workers to put all that funding to use? Plus, Ingham County is building a public defender office from the ground up. We talk about the challenges of developing a brand new governmental department. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A Defense Department official told a congressional committee that cleaning up PFAS contamination at current and former military bases carries a hefty price tag.

A map showing PFAS sites in Michigan
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Updated, February 25, 2019

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has released results of a 2018 state-wide sampling of public, school and tribal water supplies for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Of 1,114 public water systems, 119 have been found to contain some level of PFAS. No tribal water supplies contained PFAS.

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Two federal agencies are looking into the effects PFAS chemicals have on people living near military bases, but no Michigan sites are being looked at.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s study will look at volunteers from places that include New York, West Virginia, Alaska, and Texas.

people standing in front of a map
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Muskegon County residents left a PFAS meeting last night with more questions than answers.

County officials have tested 92 residential wells near the Muskegon County Airport since August, and eight have PFAS levels above the EPA clean up standard of 70 parts per trillion.

DEQ

Very high levels of PFAS chemicals have been found in groundwater at a West Michigan manufacturing plant. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the Viking Corporation used firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals at its facility in Hastings.

In October, the company began collecting groundwater samples, and the results show extremely high levels of PFAS chemicals. The highest result: 335,090 parts per trillion. That's the total for all the kinds of PFAS chemicals the company tested for in groundwater near the plant.

PFAS sites in Michigan
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

PFAS discharges from Kalamazoo's wastewater treatment plant are now under the state limit of 12 parts per trillion for surface water.

That's down from a high of about 53 parts per trillion last summer.

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