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Pellston Regional Airport (Pellston, Emmet County)

EGLE Site Lead: Christiaan Bon, or 989-370-9624. Webpage last updated April 21, 2022.


PFAS has been detected above Drinking Water Criteria in residential samples south of the Pellston Regional Airport. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is working quickly to determine source and extent of PFAS contamination. Priority residential sampling areas were determined based on regional groundwater flow, possible source areas of PFAS, and areas of sensitive populations. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has been contacting residents via phone as results are received.  Result letters will also be sent to residents. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW) representatives have secured a supply of bottled water and a delivery point.  The water is available to residents with elevated levels of PFAS in their drinking water and water vouchers have been provided to residents within the village of Pellston.  An agreement was reached with a local plumbing contractor to install point of use filter systems and provide replacement cartridges to individuals with detectable levels of PFAS chemicals as a precautionary action.

A Public Health Information Line (PHIL) has been established to address any community health concerns throughout the response: 1-800-386-5959.

Recent Accomplishments

  • In November 2021, Emmet County completed its 3rd phase of the groundwater investigation and continues working toward delineation of groundwater impacts at the Airport. The groundwater investigation will continue in 2022 and the County is preparing a Response Activity Plan for the next phase of groundwater investigation. The County is also evaluating potential remediation technologies that may be available for PFAS in groundwater.
  • In late 2021, Emmet County sent notices of migration to a total of 56 property owners in Pellston for 57 wells where one or more PFAS were detected above drinking water limits.
  • On April 4, 2022, EGLE approved an Emmet County Response Activity Plan that detailed additional investigation and a plan for PFAS-impacted soil management.
  • On April 11, 2022, EGLE finalized the report of Fall 2021 groundwater sampling in the Village of Pellston.

Next Steps

  • EGLE is pursuing an EPA grant to assess options for drinking water alternatives (whole-home filters, public drinking water, etc.) in the area affected by PFAS contamination.
  • Emmet County is preparing a Response Activity Plan for soil investigation in areas of past AFFF release and for managing impacted soil as part of airport improvement construction projects and is evaluating possible soil remediation technologies. 



EGLE contractors - Residential sampling and point of use filter installation continues.  AECOM staff are required to wear badges which look like the picture to the right.

Image description: The badge is navy blue and states "PFAS Sampling Team". It has a link to the website. It will have a foil seal of Michigan, a unique number, and state "EGLE Contractor AECOM".

EGLE AECOM contractor badge

Residential Well Testing

  • DHHS drinking water well resampling is underway. DHHS will send results by mail after all data is compiled.
  • Due to initial sampling results, the residential testing area has been expanded to the south to include former Lake Kathleen and portions west and south of the West Branch Maple River. Please see the map above. The sampling area now includes portions of Woodland Road, Ringler Road, Hartman Road, and Pine Trail.
  • If you live within the sampling area and have not had access to the form, download the EGLE/Health Department of NW Michigan PFAS Sampling Request FormYou must download the form to your computer before filling it out, or you may print it out and send a photo.
    • Return the form by email to or mail to:
      • Gaylord EGLE Office
        Attn: Leah MacDonald
        2100 West M-32
        Gaylord, MI 49735

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time.

Sampling Results Summary

Type of Sample

Date Sampled (or range)

Number of Sample Results Received

Number of Samples Above Criteria*

Residential Wells Through September 2021 215 55
Groundwater Monitoring Wells Through October 8, 2021 111 46

*Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds:  PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).

Sampling Notes

  • On August 3, 2020, new Part 201 Criteria went into effect.  Historical sampling data compared to Part 201 Criteria >70 is captured in the historical timeline below. 

Historical Timeline

    • On January 30, 2020, EGLE received a Freshwater Future result from a resident in the neighborhood directly south of the Pellston Regional Airport. The result exceeded proposed maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOS and PFHxS. EGLE learned that high school students had sampled multiple residences in the area with Freshwater Future PFAS sampling kits. The analysis of those kits was performed by the University of Michigan Biological Station at the south end of Douglas Lake. EGLE resampled the one residence to confirm the results.
    • On January 31, 2020, EGLE, DHHS, and HDNW discussed results and started planning actions to be taken if resample results confirmed initial results and if additional Freshwater Future results above criteria were received.
    • February 3, 2020, EGLE's contractor collected a confirmation sample to confirm Freshwater Future results.
    • February 6, 2020, EGLE received results of confirmation sample. Results were almost double that of the initial Freshwater Future result. Results exceed 70 ppt PFOS + PFOA, which is the Part 201 Drinking Water Cleanup Criteria.
      • PFAS results were:
        • PFBS - 39 ppt
        • PFHxA - 10 ppt
        • PFHpA - 2 ppt
        • PFHxS - 226 ppt
        • PFOA - 13 ppt
        • PFOS - 124 ppt
        • The remaining PFAS analytes were all non-detect.
    • As part of the 2018-2019 Statewide Drinking Water Sampling program, EGLE sampled Pellston Middle & High School, Pellston Elementary School, the Pioneer Building, and one other business west of downtown Pellston All four results were non-detect for PFAS.
    • February 6, 2020, EGLE, DHHS, HDNW, Village of Pellston officials, representatives of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians (LTBB), and legislative representatives discussed results, further residential sampling, and future town hall meeting. EGLE presented initial sampling areas based on known groundwater flow direction, proximity to possible PFAS source areas, and areas of sensitive populations.
    • February 10, EGLE staff went door-to-door to distribute town hall flyers and sample request forms to residents in the initial sampling area (approximately 160 homes and businesses). EGLE staff also had meetings with township officials and LTBB. EGLE staff also attended a Village of Pellston council meeting in the evening to present the initial sampling area. 
    • February 11, 2020, EGLE mailed Emmet County a letter asking questions about the use, storage and handling of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) foam at the Pellston Airport
    • February 12, 2020, a town hall meeting was held at the Pellston High School Auditorium. The town hall included an open house from 4:30-6:00 p.m. where residents could obtain information from EGLE, DHHS, HDNW, and LTBB. EGLE also took sample request forms from Pellston residents. At 6 p.m., presentations were given by Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, DHHS, and EGLE to explain basics of PFAS, health effects, and proposed sampling areas. EGLE also notified residents that residential sampling would begin on February 18, 2020.
    • On February 18-21, 2020, EGLE's contractor collected residential water samples for PFAS analysis.
    • On February 21, 2020, EGLE and HDNW representatives attended Speaker Chatfield's Coffee Hour at McKinley Township Hall. EGLE and HDNM gave short talks and met 1-on-1 with attendees that had additional questions. 
    • February 27, 2020, HDNW representatives secured a supply of bottled water and a delivery point.   The water is available for residents with elevated levels of PFAS in their drinking water and water vouchers have been provided to 13 residents within the village of Pellston.  An agreement was reached with a local plumbing contractor to install household filter systems and provide replacement cartridges to individuals with detectable levels of PFAS as a precautionary action.
    • On February 28, 2020, AECOM finished the first two weeks (initial round) of sampling. They collected 134 residential well samples in the first two weeks. Due to the low number of additional requests, they will continue sampling the week of March 9 and will not be sampling the week of March 2.
    • On March 4, 2020, EGLE received all results for the initial 134 samples taken during the first round of sampling.
    • On March 4, 2020, EGLE sent a Compliance Communication to the Emmet County Board of Commissioners regarding responsibilities under Part 201 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA). The County Board has been given an extension until May 1 to respond with a complete work plan. 
    • On March 10-11, 2020, EGLE's contractor collected 27 residential samples.
    • On March 16, 2020, EGLE received 7 additional residential sample results. DHHS contacted residents regarding the results.  The results are reflected on the sampling chart.
    • On March 17, 2020, EGLE received 18 additional residential sample results. DHHS contacted residents regarding the results.  The results are reflected on the sampling chart.
    • Between March 16 - 19, 2020, EGLE received the remaining residential sample results from the March 10-11 sampling. DHHS contacted residents regarding the results. 
    • On April 1, 2020, EGLE's contractor sampled five existing monitoring wells at the closed Pellston dump at the southern end of the green sampling area. Sampling was conducted to ensure the dump was not contributing to PFAS contamination in Pellston. Results are expected by the end of the month.
    • On April 7, 2020, HDNW reported a total of 74 locations where at least one PFAS was detected in a private well. The locations have received water vouchers until point of use filters can be installed.  To date, 64 point of use filters had been installed and replacement cartridges had been provided. Plumbing contractors continue to facilitate filter installations to affected residents.
    • On April 7, 2020, DHHS reported that results letters had been mailed to all residents that were sampled to date.
    • On April 28, 2020, EGLE received results from the five monitoring wells sampled at the closed Pellston dump. Three wells were non-detect for PFAS. Two wells had low detections below criteria and below the proposed MCLs. The results indicate the closed dump is not a downgradient source of PFAS. 
    • On May 13, 2020, a virtual town hall was held 6:00-7:45 p.m. to provide an update on PFAS contamination in the Pellston area, recent residential sampling results, water distribution, filter installation, and next steps in the environmental investigation. Presentations were given by EGLE, DHHS, and the HDNW. Participants had an opportunity to ask questions following the presentations.
    • On May 13, 2020, from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. MPART held a virtual student recognition event. Pellston teachers and students were recognized for initiating sampling of residential wells in the Pellston area, resulting in the PFAS investigation and response by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). Investigation updates were given by EGLE, DHHS, HDNW.
    • On June 2, 2020, HDNW's contractor continued installation of point of use filters after easing of COVID-19 restrictions.  
    • On June 4, 2020, EGLE's contractor completed an additional round of drinking water well sampling in Pellston collecting 18 additional samples. Results have been received and are reflected in the table below.
    • Type of Sample

      Date Sampled

      Number of Wells Sampled to Date

      Number of Well Results Received

      Number of Non-detects

      Number Between Non-detect and Standard*

      Number of>Standard
      Residential/Private Well Samples Through Mar 20, 2020 179 179 94 69 16
      Monitoring Well Samples Apr 1, 2020 5 5 3 2 0
      Cumulative 184 184 97 71 16

      *Residential well results are compared to the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.
      *Groundwater results are compared to EGLE Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.

    • On August 4, 2020, EGLE's contractor collected nine additional residential samples.  EGLE received the results, they are reflected on the map above and the sampling chart below. The maps have been updated to reflect EGLE Part 201 Criteria for PFOS (16 ppt) and PFOA (8 ppt) effective August 3, 2020. The maps have also been updated to be colorblind-friendly.
    • On September 25, 2020, EGLE received results of surface water sampling from the Maple River. PFOS was non-detect in 11 of the 14 samples and PFOA was non-detect in all samples collected in the vicinity of and upstream of Burt Lake. The three samples with PFOS detections had low concentrations of < 1.4 ppt (below-reporting limit). All results are below surface water criteria.
    • On October 2, 2020, Emmett County completed the first phase of the airport investigation under the Michigan Department of Transportation PFAS grant. 
    • On December 2, 2020, the first phase results of the Michigan Department of Transportation grant investigation were shared with EGLE. Groundwater sample results collected from the airport property exceed Part 201 drinking water criteria at multiple former AFFF use locations. The highest PFOA and PFOS concentrations were 192 ppt and 931 ppt, respectively. This makes the Pellston Area of Interest an official MPART site. Groundwater samples from the banks of the West Branch of the Maple River did not exceed the Part 201 surface water criteria of 12 ppt PFOS. A meeting was held on Monday, December 7 with local officials, airport representatives, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians representatives, and state agencies. During the meeting, airport representatives explained results and discussed next steps in the investigation. A report of phase one data will be created by airport representatives prior to the end of 2020. 
    • On December 16, 2020, EGLE's contractor completed an additional round of drinking water well sampling in Pellston collecting 2 additional samples.
    • On January 19, 2021, EGLE received the phase I investigation results. Results showed PFAS exceedances of Part 201 Criteria in groundwater on the airport property.
    • On March 18, 2021, Pellston Regional Airport presented their phase II investigation plan.
    • On April 9, 2021, DHHS representatives finished the first round of residential resampling in the Village of Pellston. Sampling started March 2, 2021.
    • On May 25, 2021, Emmet County announced that Phase II of the MDOT grant airport investigation has been completed. Currently awaiting results.
    • On June 3, 2021, EGLE sent a Section 14 Compliance Letter to Emmet County regarding Pellston Regional Airport outlining obligations under Part 201.
    • On June 23, 2021, EGLE received nine new drinking water well results; two sample results exceeded groundwater clean-up criteria.  The highest result was 410 ppt PFOS, 48 ppt PFOA, and 340 ppt PFHxS.
    • On August 11, 2021, MPART hosted a virtual town hall to update the community on the PFAS investigation.
    • On August 20, 2021, Emmet County sent a response to EGLE's June 3, 2021, Compliance Communication.
    • On August 26, 2021, EGLE contractors collected ten additional private drinking water well samples.
    • On September 8, 2021, EGLE sent a Violation Notice to Emmet County regarding Pellston Regional Airport outlining obligations under Part 201.
    • On September 14, 2021, EGLE received 10 additional residential sample results.  DHHS contacted residents regarding the results.  The results are reflected on the sampling chart.
    • On September 14, 2021, Emmet County submitted the final report for the Pellston PFAS grant - MDOT Project PLN-PFAS 2020.
    • On September 15, 2021, Emmet County sent a response to EGLE's September 8, 2021, Violation Notice regarding releases at Pellston Regional Airport.
    • On October 8, 2021, EGLE completed a two-week Vertical Aquifer Sampling This is a type of sampling where groundwater samples can be taken from multiple depths. Results will begin to find extent of offsite contamination.
    • On October 20, 2021, EGLE received results from offsite Vertical Aquifer Sampling. Results will be compiled into a report and shared on this page.