DEQ updates water officials on nation's most comprehensive statewide study of PFAS in water supplies

Agency: Environmental Quality

September 14, 2018

For More Information:
DEQ Media Office, deq-assist@michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

KALAMAZOO -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today briefed members of the American Waterworks Association’s Michigan Section on the State’s study of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) levels in public water supplies. The $1.7 million study is the first of its kind in the nation.

PFAS compounds are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including firefighting foam, food packaging, and many other consumer products. These compounds also are used by industries such as tanneries, metal platers, and clothing manufacturers. The discovery of PFAS contamination is a nationally growing trend across the United States.

As of August 31, 2018, the DEQ has overseen the collection of samples from 895 of the State’s 1,841 public water systems and schools that operate their own wells. To date, 491 laboratory test results have been received from those samples with 95 percent either showing no detection for PFAS or very low levels ranging from 0 to 10 parts per trillion (ppt). Roughly 5 percent of results have shown PFAS levels between 10 and 70 ppt. Only the city of Parchment’s test results have exceeded the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 ppt for PFAS in drinking water and the DEQ’s action level of 70 ppt in groundwater.

“This first-in-the-nation study of all public water systems in the state has resulted in 3,100 Michiganders in Parchment being protected from high levels of previously unknown PFAS contamination in their water supply,” said Eric Oswald director of DEQ’s drinking water division. “These results also underscore the need for data that can help public water systems guard against emerging contaminants like PFAS and respond to the water treatment challenges they create.”

In January 2018, the DEQ acted to set a new clean-up standard for PFAS in groundwater used for drinking water of 70 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) singularly or combined. Michigan is one of only a handful of states to establish a clean-up standard.

The statewide sampling schedule and confirmed test results are published on the MPART web site at: Michigan.gov/PFASresponse.

MPART is overseeing the state’s $23 million effort to locate PFAS contamination, identify sources, and oversee remediation activities aimed at protecting the state’s water resources and mitigating risks to the public.

In addition to public water systems, some 461 schools that operate their own wells will also be tested under the program. Roughly 75 percent of the state’s drinking water comes from public systems. The goal is to complete this statewide study by the end of 2018.

Although private residential wells are not within the scope of the study of public water supplies, information on independent testing and filtering options is available from MPART at: Michigan.gov/PFASResponse.

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