LANSING – In comment letters sent this month to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Departments of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), and Health and Human Services each urged the agency to strengthen its interim standards on two of the most common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to better protect the health, safety and welfare of Michigan residents, all Americans and the environment. A copy of the Attorney General's letter can be read here. A copy of EGLE's letter can be read here.
Michigan is one of only a few states that has issued enforceable standards for the two chemicals addressed in EPA’s recommendations: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Michigan has water quality standards, cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water, and cleanup criteria for the groundwater-surface water interface to protect the health and safety and welfare of residents and the environment. The Departments’ comments note that even with some state standards in place, there is still a need for federal standards that set a uniform national floor to protect the environment and communities across the country.
“Michigan has already taken a proactive approach to regulate PFAS contaminants in groundwater by implementing regulations on this contaminant without waiting for the federal government,” Nessel said. “But like all states, our efforts to address PFAS contamination will be aided by uniform, protective national standards.
“While the EPA is establishing interim recommendations, our federal authorities should consider more stringent standards that ensure safe drinking water for our residents and better protections for our environment.”
The EPA’s interim standards do not reflect the direction Michigan is moving to strengthen protections and standards in Michigan for cleanup and for drinking water.
“Although we appreciate the EPA developing these interim recommendations, they are not adequate to fully address key issues,” said Steve Sliver, executive director of EGLE’s Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). “We encourage the EPA to make this guidance more comprehensive and protective of public health.”
The EPA-recommended draft interim screening levels are also significantly weaker than the public health drinking water screening levels used in Michigan to provide public health recommendations for the 2.5 million residents who depend on private wells for their drinking water.
“Our mission is to use the best available science to protect public health and keep Michigan families safe,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. "We support the actions of other state departments to strengthen protections for Michigan residents.”
“The absence of enforceable federal standards has been an obstacle to pursuing PFAS mitigation and clean up, particularly when dealing with federal facilities,” Nessel added. “We are urging the federal administration to make certain we have the tools needed to be as aggressive as possible in combatting these forever chemicals that are harmful to our environment and the health, safety and well-being of our residents and all Americans.”