Michigan publishes first statewide study of PFAS in water supplies

August 16, 2019
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278

The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) today posted the final report from last year’s statewide sampling of community, school, child care provider and tribal water supplies for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The $1.7 million study was the first of its kind in the nation.

Overseen by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the effort included samples from 1,723 public water systems statewide, such as community water supplies, schools on their own well, child care providers (and MI Head Start programs) on their own well, and tribal water systems. The sampling tested the water for 14 different PFAS compounds.

Test results show that roughly 90 percent of these supplies showed no detection for PFAS. Very low levels of PFAS below 10 parts per trillion (ppt) were detected in nearly 7 percent of systems tested. PFAS levels between 10 and 70 ppt were detected in roughly 3 percent of systems tested.

Only the city of Parchment and Robinson Elementary School near Grand Haven had test results exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 ppt for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) individually or combined in drinking water.

“This first-in-the-nation study of all public water systems in the state resulted in 3,500 people in Parchment and Robinson Township being protected from high levels of previously unknown PFAS contamination in their drinking water last year,” MPART executive director Steve Sliver said. “We believe the data we’ve collected will be useful as EGLE moves forward with the development of drinking water standards.”

In addition to last year’s testing, MPART continues to fund quarterly monitoring for community water supplies, schools and child care providers with total PFAS levels of 10 ppt or higher, as well as monthly monitoring of community water supplies using surface water sources. MPART also has expanded the statewide PFAS survey to cover additional types of public water supplies representing sensitive populations and to address worker safety. 

“Protecting the public remains our top priority,” Sliver said. “MPART will continue to work with communities with detections of PFAS in their water to help them investigate and take action to drive down exposure levels.”

The report is available for downloading at Michigan.gov/PFASresponse.

PFAS compounds 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.  These compounds also are used by industries such as tanneries, metal platers and clothing manufacturers. The discovery of PFAS contamination is a nationally growing trend across the United States.

In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strengthened MPART by re-establishing it under Executive Order 2019-3 as a permanent body within EGLE.

# # #