Former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Iosco County

  • As part of Michigan’s efforts to identify PFAS in Michigan, deer were tested from areas known to have PFAS contamination in lakes or rivers. In October of 2018, MDHHS and DNR issued a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for deer taken within five miles of Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township. The advisory is due to high levels of PFAS chemicals found in deer taken within five miles of the Marsh. For additional information about this advisory and testing, visit the PFAS in Deer webpage.

  • 'Do Not Eat' Deer Advisory FAQs PDF icon
  • As of the week of September 10, 2018:

    352 private wells were tested for PFOA/PFOS
    All results are in
    There were two homes over 70 parts per trillion (PPT)
    The range of concentrations were Non-Detect to 3396

    Wurtsmith Air Force Base (WAFB) is the primary site in Oscoda. The DEQ became aware of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in March 2010 when sampling was performed at a former fire training area on the base.

    Plumes of at least eight square miles have been identified, along with six sites near the base. There are three sites off-base that are directly attributed to the former base (Loud Drive, Whispering Pines, and Van Etten Lake). Those three sites and three additional sites in the Oscoda area that are the result of efforts to put out local fires, are located under the Oscoda Area page.

PFAS Contaminated Lake Foam

  • MDEQ: Former Wurtsmith AFB PFAS Investigation PhotosPFAS contaminated foam was first discovered on the shore of Van Etten Lake in July 2017 when a group of high school students participating in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) summer program hosted by Michigan State University and DOW of Midland, encountered the foam as they prepared to sample Van Etten Lake surface water for PFAS contamination.  Noting the amount of foam and its unusual characteristics (stiffer and whiter than protein foams that naturally occur on lakes), they decided, with permission from their sponsors, to sample the foam. The foams are contaminated with several PFAS compounds but most notably with PFOS. The State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with Local Health Department #2, issued a health advisory due to the relatively high levels of PFAS found in the foams. People are advised not to ingest the foams.

    The foams appear year round as long as there is open water on the lake. They can appear on either side of the lake depending upon wind direction and they can extend well beyond the northern boundary of the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. They are believed to be the result of PFAS contamination concentrating at the water/air interface in the lake, as the concentrations in the foams are much higher than found in surface water.

    The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality continues to investigate, test and study the foam to better understand its characteristics and determine best ways to remediate.

Report Foam on Lake Van Etten

  • If you observe foam on Lake Van Ettan, please report it to the State of Michigan’s Pollution Emergency Alerting System (PEAS) hotline at 800-292-4706 or fill out and send this email form. The following information is needed when you call or email:

    • Name, Address, City, State, and Zip
    • Telephone Number
    • Email
    • Where is the foam located? (an address or location)
    • How much foam is present, length by width by thickness? (we understand this is an estimate/best guess)
    • What time did you first observe the foam, and is it still present?
    • If it is a floating mass of foam, which direction is it moving?
    • Wind speed, wind direction, and air temperature? If not, this information is not essential.
    • Can you take a picture of the foam and attach it to this email?