By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
US Representative Elissa Slotkin, along with a panel of experts hosted a public forum on July 8 at the Jane Tasch Performing Arts Theater in Pinckney to discuss PFAS issues and what is being done at local, state and federal levels.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, otherwise referred to as PFAS, are man made chemicals that are used around the world in manufacturing, firefighting and common household products.
Slotkin opened the forum saying she hears about PFAS issues every week from her constituents. She added Michigan is leading the country in the number of PFAS contamination sites. She added this may be because the state is looking more into this issue than other states.
“If you cannot fish the lakes that your fathers’ fished and your grandfather’s fished, that is a threat to your way of life. If you can not give your child a glass of water without knowing whether or not it will give him or her an early cancer or a learning disability, that’s a threat to your family so we need to speak about it in a much more muscular, serious term,” Slotkin said in regards to Michigan’s environment, PFAS contaminants and preserving homeland security.
Slotkin said she joined the bipartisan PFAS task force and is working on passing legislation to ban the use of PFAS along with banning use of PFAS foam in military fire training operations. The forum for this evening was to start conversations on the PFAS topic.
MPART-Michigan PFAS Action Response Team-was created as a temporary body by executive directive to investigate sources and locations of PFAS and protect drinking water and public health. Since the 2017 Executive Directive, MPART has identified PFAS in several counties, cities, and towns throughout Michigan.
During the discussion, the expert panel from Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Huron River Watershed Council and Livingston County Health Department discussed how PFAS contamination cycles through the environment through landfills, wastewater treatment facilities and in waterways. Several sites in Michigan have been identified as contamination sites including Thermofil and Diamond Chrome Plating in Livingston County. MPART and the agencies within are working on ways to reduce the contamination at the source and conducting testing in drinking water, groundwater, lakes and streams, soils, sediments, wastewater and the PFAS foam that can accumulate at lakes and rivers. Testing of fish and wildlife for PFAS contamination has begun in certain parts of the state and the agencies are working with local health departments to issue any health advisories.
Daniel Brown, Huron River Watershed Council, was among those who spoke on the panel, specifically on the Huron River noting that the Huron River is a gem to Southeast Michigan in all its beauty. Brown said that to date, all public drinking water in the Watershed is well below the 70 parts per trillion EPA health advisory for PFOS and PFOA (PFAS is a family of five thousand or more compounds within that include PFOS and PFOA). He said there is still a lot of unknowns on the complex chemicals in the PFAS group and questioned if EPA water standards were good enough. Brown said at this point there is no reason to change ones recreation on the water such as swimming, boating and river recreation should still be enjoyed as before, however people should not eat the fish or touch the foam (foam contains concentrations of PFAS levels) where advisories have been placed. Brown hopes the Huron River will be looked at in the future as a success story, how the state and leaders came together in overcoming the PFAS contamination.
For more information at a state level visit www.michigan.gov/egle/ or www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/ . For local PFAS information, visit the Huron River Watershed Council at www.hrwc.org