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Comprehensive regulations limiting PFAS in Michigan drinking water now in place

PFAS testing beaker

Some of the nation's most comprehensive regulations limiting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in drinking water took effect in Michigan this week.

On July 22, following 15 session days in front of the Michigan Legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), the proposed rules passed the final oversight step in the rule-making process launched by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in March of 2019. The rules took effect on August 3 and represent the state's first-ever drinking water standards for PFAS in municipal drinking water.

"All Michiganders deserve to know that we're prioritizing their health and are continuing to work every day to protect the water coming out of their taps," said Governor Whitmer. "Michigan is once again leading the way nationally in fighting PFAS contamination by setting our own science-based drinking water standard. As a result, we will be better protecting Michiganders across our state."

PFAS are a group of 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.

Michigan's new regulations limit seven PFAS chemicals in drinking water and will cover roughly 2,700 public water supplies around the state. The following Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) were proposed by EGLE and adopted by the legislature:

Specific PFAS  Drinking Water MCL Parts per Trillion (ppt)
PFHxA 400,000 
PFHxS 51 
PFBS 420 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), EGLE and other state agencies that make up the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), conducted a year-long review of current scientific and health data about PFAS and consulted several academic, environmental and business stakeholders in the development of the rules.

“Under the direction of Governor Whitmer, we’ve reached this critical milestone for the safety of Michigan’s drinking water,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “These rules represent the input from a diverse group of stakeholders who helped us shape regulations that are practical, science-driven and, most importantly, protective of public health. We remain committed to working together to root out PFAS contamination, protect at-risk populations and drive down exposure levels.”

The new rules followed the Administrative Rules Process handled by the Environmental Rules Review Committee, Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR) and JCAR. The rules were also subject to a public comment period.

The new drinking water standards also have an immediate effect on Michigan's existing groundwater clean-up criteria of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA. The new groundwater standard will be 8 ppt for PFOA and 16 ppt for PFOS.

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