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Frequently Asked Questions about Water Quality due to the Warehouse Fire
How does MDHHS determine that there is a low health risk if they discover PFAS is in the water?
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) evaluated the drinking water test results for water entering and leaving the Menominee water treatment plant. The MDHHS evaluation process follows federal guidance designed to be protective of everyone. The process includes using health-based screening levels designed to protect people over a lifetime of exposure to a chemical, including sensitive populations such as infants less than 12 months of age. To date, test results from Menominee treated drinking water have been below these health-based screening levels. MDHHS has determined there is no apparent public health concern based on the amount of PFAS in water test results and current conditions associated with the fire.
Public health toxicologists evaluate drinking water contamination by considering different qualities of a chemical and the conditions of the situation, including a chemical’s toxicity, the maximum measured concentrations in the drinking water, the amount of chemical a person could have been exposed to, the number of days or weeks the exposure could happen, and the chance for chemical concentrations to change over time.
If future results indicate that PFAS amounts are above health-based screening levels, MDHHS will take necessary public health actions. This includes notifying the community though community engagement and outreach efforts coordinated with Public Health – Delta and Menominee Counties (PHDM). Exceeding a health-based screening level may not indicate harm but will require further investigation and public notification.
For one of the PFAS that was found in the water, 6:2 FTS, there is no regulatory standard. In that case, how is it determined that there is no health risk?
Even though there are not regulatory standards, MDHHS public health toxicologists have reviewed what has been learned about 6:2 FTS in scientific studies. Based on the level of 6:2 FTS found in the drinking water and the known health effects, MDHHS evaluated a health scenario protective of everyone and, based on existing data, determined there is no apparent health risks to the public.
I’m still worried about my drinking water. What should I do?
If you are concerned about PFAS or other contaminants in your drinking water, you can contact MDHHS at 800-648-6942, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., EST, or 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., CST.
For more information visit: https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/drinking-water.
Boiling water does not remove or reduce PFAS and may actually concentrate it.
For information about filtering out PFAS from drinking water visit: https://www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/drinking-water/filters
How did the PFAS get into Menominee’s Public Water Supply?
PFAS are a range of chemicals that are found in many different types of products for various uses. Several of the products stored within the warehouse contained these chemicals. As a result of the fire, PFAS chemicals were released to the environment and entered the Menominee River.
Is there a Public Health Concern with touching PFAS-contaminated water in the Menominee River and Green Bay?
The identified PFAS chemicals released due to the fire do not pass easily through the skin and there is not a health concern related to these identified PFAS chemicals if you touch the waters of the Menominee River and Green Bay.
MDHHS recommends that Michiganders and visitors avoid foam on Michigan waterbodies such as lakes, rivers and streams. If you do come in contact with foam, MDHHS recommends that you rinse off or bathe as soon as possible. Coming into contact with foam without rinsing off or bathing can lead to accidentally swallowing foam or foam residue. To learn more about PFAS foam, visit the PFAS Foam web page.
Did the release of PFAS chemicals change the Public Health Concerns with fish from the Menominee River or Green Bay?
Not at this time. The pre-existing consumption guidelines remain current. Please consult the Eat Safe Fish Guidelines for Menominee River and Green Bay.
What about other chemicals? What do we know about the other chemicals that might have been within the warehouse?
The US Environmental Protection Agency has been collecting surface water samples and analyzing them for volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), semi-volatile chemical (SVOCs), Pesticides/Herbicides and Metals. Results continue to come in and once validated can be posted by US EPA to the US EPA Menominee Michigan Warehouse Fire website.