Michigan reaches mid-point in nation's first statewide study of PFAS in water supply

Agency: Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

August 21, 2018

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

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) today announced that it has reached the mid-point in collecting samples for a statewide study of PFAS (Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) levels in public water supplies. The $1.7 million survey 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 16th, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has collected samples from 892 of the state’s 1,841 public water systems and schools that operate their own wells. To date, 341 laboratory test results have been received from those samples.  Only the city of Parchment’s test results have exceeded the EPA 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 MPART Director Carol Isaacs. “Our top priority remains to protect the public and MPART alerted local officials and the people of Parchment within hours of receiving test results that showed high levels of PFAS in their water system.”

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) combined.  Michigan is one of only a handful of states to establish a clean-up standard. 

Of the 341 test results for combined PFOA and PFOS received, 318 have been between 0 and 10 ppt, 22 have been between 10 and 70 ppt and 1 has been over 70 ppt. 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.

Prior to launching the public water system program, the DEQ had sampled water at more than 30 locations across the state including industrial facilities, military bases, and landfills known to have used or disposed of PFAS-containing materials and has acted to protect drinking water supplies. In addition to these investigation sites, many larger water systems serving multiple communities like those in greater Detroit, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids, have proactively sampled for PFAS and are already in compliance with the new state limit.

In addition to public water systems, some 461 schools that operate their own wells will be considered priority testing sites 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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