Michigan adopts strict PFAS in drinking water standards

Date:  July 22, 2020  
Time: All Day Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 2020 
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced today that Michigan will adopt a ruleset creating some of the nation’s most comprehensive regulations limiting PFAS contamination in 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 Gov. Gretchen 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.”

Following 15 session days in front of the Michigan Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), this ruleset passed the final oversight step in the rule-making process launched by Gov. Whitmer in March 2019.

The ruleset takes effect seven days after filing with the Secretary of State and is expected to become official Aug. 3, 2020. The new rules will provide drinking water standards for public water systems to achieve.

“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.”

Michigan’s first-ever regulations limiting seven PFAS chemicals in drinking water will cover roughly 2,700 public water supplies around the state and exceed the current US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance on the chemicals.

The following Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) were proposed by EGLE and adopted by the legislature:

Drinking Water MCLs for PFAS

Specific PFAS

Drinking Water MCL
Parts per Trillion (ppt)

PFNA

6 ppt

PFOA

8 ppt

PFHxA

400,000 ppt

PFOS

16 ppt

PFHxS

51 ppt

PFBS

420 ppt

HFPO-DA

370 ppt

 

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.

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.

The new drinking water and groundwater standards will also result in 42 new sites being added into MPART’s portfolio of ongoing PFAS investigations. Half of the new sites are landfills and more than a dozen are former plating or manufacturing sites. Many sites are also the subject of ongoing EGLE investigations into other forms of contamination. Summaries of the new sites will be posted on the MPART web site after the rules become official. Additionally, MPART will schedule a series of regional webinars to provide more information regarding next steps in the state’s investigation into PFAS contamination at these sites.

Additional investigations may also be pursued based on monitoring data required of public water systems under the new rules. Roughly 30 public water systems were found to have total PFAS results of 10 ppt or higher during MPART’s 2018 statewide sampling program and ongoing surveys. Compliance with the new standards at those systems and others will be determined based on a running annual average of sample results. Investigations near the public water systems with PFAS detections will be prioritized for further assessment and sampling by EGLE to determine potential PFAS sources and any potential risk to both public and private drinking water.

“We’ve communicated with many of these public water systems along with other stakeholders during the period we were developing these rules so this change in status will not come as a surprise,” said Steve Sliver, executive director of MPART. “The PFAS levels previously detected at these sites and supplies have not necessarily changed, but the state’s regulations have become much more protective and give us a new tool in our shared mission of protecting people’s drinking water.”

In anticipation of these new rules, many public water supplies have already acted to reduce PFAS levels in their drinking water supply. MPART agencies like EGLE and MDHHS will assist public water systems to bring their water into compliance over the next several months.

Known to scientists as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, 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.

To learn more about PFAS, visit the MPART website at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse.

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