By Lonnie Huhman,
State Rep. Donna Lasinski, D-Scio Township, said she hopes the townhall meeting she hosted on March. 7, might have answered some questions and issues her constituents have around PFAS levels in local water.
And she said she hopes it also lets them know their concerns matter.
From the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extension of the do not eat fish advisory impacting such local areas as the Huron River as well as Base Line and Portage Lakes to the different questions raised by concerned residents, she said the goal of the clean water townhall held at Scio Township was to spur on more discussions and action around PFAS.
Lasinski said this is an issue that needs to be a priority for elected officials and the concerns voiced from the community need to be heard. She said there was a good turnout with around 150 people in attendance at the meeting.
She said she wants residents to know, “their voice is important,” and they can advocate for the PFAS issue to be a priority.
In addition, she said she wants her constituents to know they can go to her for answers, help or direction to someone who can help. She said providing information and answering questions are important in addressing any fears with this.
An end goal for her, she said, is helping to ensure, “safe, clean drinking water supplies.”
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality defines Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS as a large group of man-made chemicals that include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) that have been used globally during the past century in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of common household and other consumer products.
The estimates in Michigan say there could be more than 11,000 locations around the state that may be contaminated with PFAS. It should be noted, PFAS has not been detected in city of Dexter water.
Lasinski said the do not eat fish advisory now includes telling people to try to limit contact with the foam found in the water, which includes pets.
“To see this advisory is distressing to many residents,” Lasinski said.
The state of Michigan has formed a PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) that is aiming to builds on previous work to research, identify, recommend, and implement PFAS response actions throughout the state.
According to the plan, agencies representing health, environment, natural resources, and other branches of state government have joined together to take action to protect Michigan’s drinking water, investigate sources and locations of PFAS contamination in the state, and maintain transparency as we learn more about this nationally emerging contaminant.
“These chemicals are persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time,” MPART’s website said. “In recent years, experts have become increasingly concerned by the potential effects of high concentrations of PFAS on human health.”
According to MPART, some scientific studies suggest that certain PFAS may affect different systems in the body.
“The National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is working with various partners to better understand how exposure to PFAS might affect people’s health,” MPART’s website said. “Although more research is needed, some studies in people have shown that certain PFAS may: lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; increase the chance of high blood pressure in pregnant women; increase the chance of thyroid disease; increase cholesterol levels; change immune response and increase chance of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers.”
MPART said, “Although there is still more to learn about PFAS and human health, the State of Michigan takes this issue seriously and is one of the first states in the nation to establish a clean-up standard for PFAS in groundwater used for drinking water.”
Lasinski said one concern raised at the meeting was testing of private wells. She said residents who want to see their wells tested can go to the Department of Health and Human Services office at 705 N. Zeeb Road to get testing kits.
She said in Michigan there is a need to ensure a safe drinking water standard, have the ability to compel polluters clean up any contamination they’ve made and there’s need to be more work done to complete research around the issue of PFAS.
Also, if any resident has additional questions regarding this issue, the State of Michigan Environmental Assistance Center can be contacted at 800-662-9278 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse.