Michigan reaches one-year milestone in leading national efforts to address emerging PFAS contamination

For Immediate Release
​November 13, 2018 

DEQ Media Office, deq-assist@michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) today announced the latest results in its statewide effort to reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) levels in public water supplies. Today also marked the one-year anniversary of its creation as the first-of-its-kind PFAS taskforce in the nation after being launched in 2017 by Governor Rick Snyder.

In the past twelve months, MPART has tested 1,218 public water systems and schools on private wells through the state, surveyed more than 100 waste water treatment plants and nearly 700 fire departments. MPART is also actively responding to 34 sites with known PFAS contamination in its efforts to locate and eliminate sources of PFAS contamination in the state’s drinking water. During these investigations, the state has overseen the collection of more than 7,000 water samples and distribution of filters and alternative water to more than 1,700 homes.

“State employees have worked tirelessly with local officials to identify and reduce people’s exposure to PFAS in drinking water statewide,” Gov. Snyder said.  “The MPART team has engaged with industry and military officials to identify and control sources of PFAS contamination — and coordinated with top scientists to learn all we can about this nationally emerging threat. No other state has attacked PFAS on so many fronts or done more to advance the public’s knowledge of these chemicals. This is another case where Michigan is leading the way. Several states have sought guidance from MPART and modeled their PFAS activities after what we have done here.”

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 state’s $23 million MPART initiative has reduced or eliminated previously unknown PFAS contamination in several public water systems, schools, and wastewater systems throughout the state resulting in the immediate protection of thousands of Michiganders.

“MPART has remained true to its mission of proactive action and response to an emerging contaminant,” said MPART director Carol Isaacs. “While PFAS regulations and exposure levels continue to be debated on a national level, MPART has moved aggressively on several fronts to drive down the exposure risks of Michigan residents.”

In January, Michigan become one of only a handful of states to set a new clean-up criterion of less than 70 parts per trillion for PFAS in groundwater used for drinking water. This clean-up criterion was based on the existing US EPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) expects to complete testing 1,111 public water systems and 460 schools on private wells -- covering 75 percent of the state’s population -- by year-end.

To date, 90 percent of these water supplies have been sampled and 77 percent of test results have been received. Of the 1,218 test results received with 90 percent have been non-detect for any PFAS, nearly 7 percent between 0 and 10 ppt, and 3 percent being between 10 and 70 ppt.

To date, the public water supply in Parchment and the well serving Robinson Elementary School were the only two supplies found to have combined PFOS and PFOA levels above 70 ppt. Both are now supplied by alternative water sources.

For more information on PFAS and Michigan’s public water system testing program visit the MPART web site at: Michigan.gov/PFASresponse.