Robinson Elementary School near Grand Haven last week started up a new water-filtration system designed to protect students and staff from PFAS contamination in the groundwater.
Known to scientists as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS 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.
Administrators at Grand Haven Area Public Schools were notified in October of 2018 that the elementary school had tested positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances during the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team's (MPART) statewide testing program.
The school's drinking water was found to have PFOS and PFOA, at a combined level of 119 parts per trillion (ppt) and total PFAS of 171 ppt.
The school had been using bottled water for more than two years while waiting for the $161,000 water filtration system to be installed and tested. The school district paid for roughly 20 percent of the system cost and a state grant covered the remaining design and installation costs.
The school's new water filtration system is an ion filtration system designed by Fishbeck, Inc., It was installed in 2019 and underwent an extensive testing period to monitor the water. The school also has installed a new well and pump to complement the treatment system.