The widespread dangers of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been studied more and more in recent years. The Environmental Protection Agency, and the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, has been analyzing PFAS in confirmed sites, hoping to advance to solutions that can limit exposure and negative health effects.
The State of Michigan recognizes these new contaminants by the EPA. Michigan companies use(d) these chemicals in thousands of applications throughout the industrial food, and textile industries and are an ingredient in some firefighting foams, food packaging, cleaning products, and various other household items.
Though the substances are mostly stable, they break down slowly in the environment and are highly soluble, easily transferring through soil to groundwater.
In 2017, Michigan created the PFAS Action Response Team as a temporary body to investigate sources and locations of PFAS, and to protect drinking water and public health.
In February 2019, the MPART was established as an enduring body to address the threat in Michigan, protect public health, and ensure the safety of Michigan’s land, air, and water, while facilitating inter-agency coordination, increasing transparency, and requiring clear standards to ensure accountability.
Michigan can continue to lead the country in its effort to protect human health and the environment against PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and there are many actions we can take right now.
To protect human health, the Michigan Safe Water Drinking Act can establish a drinking water standard and create a Maximum Contaminant Level using the best sources available.
Michigan already has established a cleanup standard for a few of the thousands of chemicals that make up PFAS, but the regulations need to be flexible enough to adapt to the new information.
Adjusting the standards for cleanup is a suggested fix, but alongside updating the cleanup standard, the state needs to dedicate funds to a contaminated site remediation. Part of the funding can implement point-of-use filters for residents in impacted communities, and they can establish grants to add needed treatment technologies to public water systems.
Michigan may lead the nation as the state with the most identified locations affected by PFAS contamination, but that is mainly because Michigan is looking the hardest for these sites. Michigan is also looking the hardest for solutions to help prevent the threat of exposure.