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PFAS

EPA outlines plan for dealing with PFAS in water

Feb 14, 2019
PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Under strong pressure from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that it will move ahead this year with a process that could lead to setting a safety threshold for a group of highly toxic chemicals in drinking water.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the immediate focus would be on two of the most common chemicals in the group, both of which have been phased out by manufacturers but remain in the environment and have suspected links to health threats ranging from cancer to decreased fertility.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

New data shows elevated levels of PFAS in sewers passing through the old Buick City site in Flint.

PFAS are a family of chemicals that have been linked to serious health concerns.   

The term PFAS refers specifically to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, (the term “PFCs,” or perfluorinated chemicals is also sometimes used).

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists are giving a road map to Michigan’s elected leaders for dealing with threats to the state’s land, lakes and drinking water.  

Twenty conservation and environmental groups delivered their recommendations last week.

Lisa Wozniak is the executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. 

Elissa Slotkin
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

Today on Stateside, U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) tells us what she thinks it will take to end the longest partial federal government shutdown in United States history, now in its fifth week.  Plus, we hear about some up-and-coming artists in the Detroit's music scene, and say goodbye to a legendary guitarist from the city. 

person weighing weed on scale
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Today on Stateside, Michigan regulators allow unlicensed dispensaries and growers to reopen in midst of a medical marijuana shortage. Plus, a software engineer who traded building software for building kitchen cabinets.

faucet running water
Marina Shemesh / Public Domain

A new bill in the state Senate would set a limit of 5 parts per trillion for two common PFAS chemicals in drinking water.

PFOA and PFOS are part of a family of chemicals linked to serious health issues – including cancer.

Senator Winnie Brinks introduced the bill. She says research shows the current Environmental Protection Agency advisory level of 70 parts per trillion is too high.

Rachel Kramer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Authorities are testing surface water from the Grand River after an abandoned plating facility in Jackson was found to have high levels of PFAS chemicals. Michner Plating joins the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's list of more than two dozen industrial sites with high levels of PFAS contamination.

Map of Muskegon County PFAS testing area
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

Health officials in Muskegon County have found 20 more wells with detectable levels of PFAS chemicals.

The county is testing in the area surrounding the Muskegon County Airport because PFAS chemicals have previously been found in wells there.

More than 110 wells have already been tested, and five homes had PFAS levels above the EPA advisory level of 70 parts per trillion.

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

Governor Rick Snyder used one of his last days in office to sign hundreds of bills. One will make it harder for the state to adopt stricter drinking water standards than the federal government.

Citizen groups like Michigan Demands Action against Contamination and Need Our Water -- or NOW --  have been urging state lawmakers to create a stricter clean up standard for PFAS chemicals, which have been found at high levels in drinking water for residents across the state.

Leather straps
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A West Michigan shoe manufacturer thinks they aren't the only ones to blame for PFAS polluted groundwater. 

Wolverine Worldwide has been at the middle of the groundwater contamination in northern Kent County since the state began warning residents about high levels of PFAS being found in their private wells. 

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

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team released the findings from the independent PFAS Science Advisory Committee appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The 90-page report includes analysis of the causes and effects of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as 17 recommendations to the state in its ongoing response to PFAS contamination.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A controversial bill setting new standards for cleaning up contamination is on its way to the governor.

The state House approved the legislation Tuesday by a narrow 56 to 53 vote margin. The bill has already passed the state Senate.

Person driving a go-kart.
Takashi Azuma / Flickr

Today on Stateside, a scientist on the state's PFAS Scientific Advisory Committee breaks down the group's official report on how Michigan should deal with PFAS contamination. Plus, after her sister suffered permanent brain damage on a go-kart ride in 2015, Corri Sandwick has been pushing the state to make amusement parks safer. 

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

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Grand Rapids
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan gives an update on the approximately 100 Iraqi immigrants who were detained in police custody for nearly a year and a half before a U.S. District Judge ordered their release last month. Plus, the lawyer representing residents in the Rockford area whose water was contaminated with PFAS weighs in on Senate Bill 1244, which would overhaul Michigan's standards for cleaning up toxic chemicals. 

Wikimedia commons

 

Today, where do bills still passing through the Michigan Legislature stand as we head into the final week of the lame-duck session? Plus, we speak to two siblings who were separated in the foster care system. Now, they're fighting for a Sibling Bill of Rights. 

Legislator explains why school grading system is needed

 

Teacher standing in front of a classroom of children.
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On today’s show, a toxicologist shares his concerns over a bill moving through Michigan's lame-duck legislature that would restrict what information the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality uses when determining standards for toxic contamination cleanup. Plus, our education commentator Matinga Ragatz on why it’s important that teachers not shy away from talking about race in the classroom.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Scientists and public health advocates are voicing concern over a bill currently making its way through Michigan’s lame-duck Legislature. They say that SB 1244,  sponsored by state Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland), could prevent the state from using the most up-to-date science when determining what levels of toxic contamination should trigger a cleanup. 

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Residents in two West Michigan townships with PFAS contamination could end up paying to be connected to city water.

Officials from Plainfield and Algoma Townships say shoe manufacturer Wolverine Worldwide ended talks that included a plan to pay for the city water extension, but a representative from the company denies ending the talks.

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Environmental groups are hoping legislation to address emerging contaminants in Michigan will move during the lame duck session. But lawmakers say there isn’t enough time to pass the bills – and any action will likely wait until next session.

PFAS chemicals are a family of contaminants that are polluting water across the state.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says it wants the Legislature to address the issue.

Katie Parrish is with the League. She says some bills have been waiting for a year.

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

Two commonly found PFAS compounds can potentially cause male infertility, according to a recent study.

A study published last month in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that PFOA and PFOS, two of the most commonly found PFAS compounds, can lower sperm count and cause smaller penis size.

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

 

Today, we speak to MLive reporter Paula Gardner, co-author of an investigative report that found PFAS chemicals are still being released in large quantities by businesses across the state. Plus, a new bill proposed in the state Senate would remove protections from some Michigan wetlands on private property. Opponents say it would have devastating effects, but supporters say it's protecting property owners from government overreach.  

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

Northern Kent County residents say they're eager to learn more about a new PFAS chemical exposure study.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Kent County Health Department talked to residents on Tuesday night about the study and how they can participate.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists are warning that state lawmakers leaving office in December may act on a wide range of legislation affecting water quality and other issues during their lame duck session.

flight of beers
Flickr/ Quinn Dombrowski

 

Today, there's no federal or state restriction on the level of PFAS contamination considered a public health threat. What there is, is an advisory. We speak to a former EPA official who helped create it. Plus, what can we learn about our own freshwater seas from researchers studying the African Great Lakes?

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting today, more than 600,000 Michigan hunters are expected to take to the woods for the state’s annual firearm deer season.

These are not the best of times for Michigan’s deer hunting industry. There’s been a sharp decline in the number of deer hunters. There’s also concern about problems with the herd, from Chronic Wasting Disease to PFAS contamination in some areas. 

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

How well has the State of Michigan responded to the problem of PFAS contamination of our groundwater? That was the focus of a Grand Rapids hearing Tuesday convened by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich.

police car
Matt Popovich / Unsplash

 

Today, did the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ignore a staff scientist’s warnings about PFAS contamination in 2012? Plus, the chief of the Grand Rapids Police Department tells us how he plans to implement changes to reduce racial bias following a task force’s review of the department. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A scientist at the state Department of Environmental Quality says he felt like he was “at the edge of the abyss” when he first realized the possible effects of widespread PFAS contamination in Michigan.

Robert Delaney made the comments at a public hearing in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, hosted by Senator Gary Peters.

Delaney wrote a report on the potential harm from PFAS chemicals in 2012.

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

U.S. Senator Gary Peters is holding a Senate field subcommittee meeting on PFAS Tuesday.

Representatives from the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, Department of Environmental Quality and some local officials will testify at the hearing.

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Residents of a town near Kalamazoo join a federal class action lawsuit against 3M and Georgia-Pacific over PFAS contamination.

The lawsuit alleges that both companies played a role in the high levels of industrial chemicals that were discovered in the city of Parchment’s municipal water in July.

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