Published: August 21, 2018

    PFAS Contaminants Found at Alarming Levels Across Michigan

    The ongoing water crisis in Flint isn’t the only major contaminant problem for the citizens of Michigan. The state is in the process of testing more than 1,000 water supplies across the state for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs, or PFAS contaminants) after multiple communities have detected unsafe concentrations of the contaminant in their water supply.

    The worst findings were for the city of Parchment and the nearby Cooper Township – the water supply tested for PFAS contaminants at a level 26 times the federal health advisory. PFAS contaminants were detected in the water at a rate of 1,587 parts per trillion.

    In response to the test results municipal authorities informed the 3,100 people who rely on that water supply to immediately stop drinking the water until further notice. Just a few days ago the governor’s office announced a state of emergency due to ongoing health and safety concerns.

    In the statement Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley noted, “This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township.” Calley enacted the state of emergency while Governor Rick Snyder is out of the state.

    Exposure to PFAS contaminants causes many serious health problems. PFAS contaminant consumption increases the risk of developing cancer, kidney disease, thyroid conditions, and autoimmune disorders. Pregnant women and young children are the most vulnerable to the health problems caused by PFAS contaminants.

    Industrial and military sites are the primary sources for this toxic contamination in public waterways. Selfridge Air National Guard Base is one of the main sources in Michigan for PFAS contamination that gets into the waterways that supply drinking water sources. Lake St. Clair and the Clinton River are both confirmed sites of PFAS contamination, and discharge originating from the Selfridge Air National Guard Base likely contaminated both waterways.

    According to Scott Dean of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team has been hard at work testing local water supplies and public school wells from a list of more than 11,000 Michigan sites where PFAS contaminants are likely to be found in water, waste, or other materials.

    A press release from July 28 issued by the Environmental Working Group warns that the alarming rate of PFAS contamination is not limited to Michigan. Their findings show a pattern of increased PFAS levels in water supplies across the country from the beginning of the year.  Their comprehensive map uses data collected to show PFAS contamination in water supplies for more than 16 million people in 33 states and Puerto Rico.

    The EWG catalogues known sites of PFAS pollution and tracks how these sites affect nearby waterways. Currently they have identified at least 172 sites across 40 states that create PFAS pollution, including military bases, airports, dumps, and industrial plants.

    Concerned homeowners don’t need to wait until it’s too late to protect their families against harmful contaminants like PFASs. Xindi Hu, an author of a Harvard study on PFASs, stated that GAC carbon filters like those found in our POE Whole House Water Filtration System and in our Reserve Osmosis filters are the strongest products for combatting PFAS contamination, though he noted that many store-bought filtration systems are not equipped to effectively filter PFAS contaminants.

    While better standards are developed to test POE systems and we constantly test our POU systems for removal of contaminates like PFAS, our reverse osmosis system currently has NSF 58 certification. Our Countertop Drinking Filter has NSF 42 and 53 certification. Our recommendation is to invest in a Countertop Drinking Filter at minimum, and pair it with a Whole House Water Filtration System if you have the means.

    This contaminant is serious, and with more and more cases popping up the time to filter your water is now.