Press Release: Some in Kent County have Drinking Water that Contains Harmful Chemicals Called PFAS, But May Not Know It
Contact: Jill Ryan or Stephanie Altrock
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Some in Kent County have Drinking Water that Contains Harmful Chemicals called PFAS, But They May Not Know It
September 5, 2018
Kent County, MI – Perfluroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, have collectively emerged as one the biggest environmental threats facing the Great Lakes region. In the State of Michigan alone, roughly 11,000 sites are estimated to be contaminated by PFAS. Despite the massive threat PFAS pose to both the environment and human health, testing by the state only began recently for public water systems, and is not planned for private wells. Additionally, the results of the testing are located on a state website that most aren’t likely to visit.
Freshwater Future, a nonprofit focused on helping communities across the Great Lakes region protect and restore their water from source to tap, wants to ensure that all residents with elevated PFAS levels but that are lower than the state threshold for action (70 ppt) are able to access this information and make decisions for their families. The State of Michigan is testing over 1,400 public water supplies, the data can be found here. The results listed here are only for public water supplies and currently data for only approximately 500 locations are available.
Notably, Kent County Whispering Pines and Spring Valley Mobile Home Park were found to have PFAS levels above 10 ppt according to the state’s results. While the current standards for protecting human health are set at 70 ppt by the U.S. EPA, a recently released report from the Center for Disease Control recommends a level up to 10 times lower (summarized in a news article). If you live near one of the listed sites, here is more information from the Center for Disease Control on what the current federal protective standards are, human health effects of exposure, and answers to commonly asked questions regarding PFAS here.
PFAS is a group of man-made chemicals used to repel oil and water. They are used in a wide range of consumer products and industrial applications. Companies worldwide have employed them to make non-stick cookware, carpet cleaners, stain repellents, waterproof and flame-resistant footwear and clothing, plumbers tape, coating wires, and flame retardants. This class of chemical is especially pernicious because it does not break down in the environment or the human body. As a groundwater contaminant, PFAS chemicals are particularly challenging. They do not stick to anything or converge in one place—complicating cleanup.
Exposure to PFAS, PFOS, and PFOA chemicals have been linked to kidney and testicular cancers, ulcerative colitis, hypertension, liver and thyroid damage, high cholesterol levels, and other serious health problems. The science is still developing, but we do know that exposure is not only unsafe, it’s potentially deadly over the long-term. Jill Ryan, executive director of Freshwater Future, states: “Information about these harmful chemicals has been withheld at both the state and federal levels, and now we need to ensure that the testing results are disseminated quickly.”
You can sign-up to receive periodic updates on this issue and information on testing private wells by visiting Freshwater Future’s website, www.freshwaterfuture.org/signup-pfas.