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Tag Archive | "PFAS"

PFAS not detected in City of Cedar Springs water

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has begun a statewide initiative to test drinking water from all schools that use well water and community water supplies. The test is looking for a group of manmade chemicals called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). MDEQ is taking this precautionary step of testing these drinking water sources to determine if public health actions are needed.

The City of Cedar Springs tested its water earlier this year and PFAS was not detected. Not long after, it was tested again as part of the MDEQ initiative, and the results were the same—PFAS was not detected.

It is not uncommon to find low levels of PFAS in drinking water supplies, as PFAS can be found in fire-fighting foams, stain repellants, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, food wrappers, and many other household products. They do not break down in the environment and move easily into water.

The City of Cedar Springs was tested by AECOM, MDEQ’s contractor. The results show that of the PFOA and PFOS tested,  none were found in the water. The level is below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lifetime health advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion. 

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Tri County School tests positive for PFAS

Tri County County Area Schools received testing results from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality last week that showed Tri County Middle School tested positive for PFAS.

According to Superintendent Allen Cumings, the Middle School tested at 62 parts per trillion (ppt), which is slightly below the EPA required limit of 70 ppt. Tri County High School was negative for PFAS, and the elementary schools are on municipal water, which is currently being tested.

“Tri County Area Schools is committed to providing our students, staff and community with quality drinking water,” said Superintendent Al Cumings. “We are working closely with MDEQ and are taking immediate steps to provide bottled water while investigating the source of the PFAS issue.

Cumings went on to say that even though the test results at the Tri County Middle School are below federal limits, the district is taking the following measures to ensure safe drinking water is available: 

1. Providing bottled water for drinking and meal preparation (immediately drinking fountains will not be available for use) 

2. Retaining an independent Environmental Engineering firm 

3. Working with the MDEQ to identify a plan with a timeline to address this issue 

4. Working with MDEQ to evaluate alternative water sources 

5. Cooperating with the MDEQ with regard to additional water testing and its investigation 

District officials noted that with safe drinking water an issue of concern across the state, they had been cooperating on an initiative with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to test drinking water from schools using well water and community water supplies. The initiative is designed to determine if public health action is needed.

The testing process identifies man-made chemicals called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Since PFAS break down slowly and move easily into water, it is not uncommon to find low levels of PFAS in drinking water. They are also found in stain repellants, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, food wrappers, and other household products.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested limits for two PFAS in drinking water, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The EPA has not set health advisory levels for other PFAS compounds. All Tri County Area Schools are being tested by AECOM, the MDEQ’s contractor.

“We will keep our community updated as we work with MDEQ to resolve this issue. Look for a Frequently Asked Questions document soon to come,” said Superintendent Cumings. “The health and safety of our students and staff members remains our number one priority.”

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Health advisory issued regarding PFAS in foam on Rogue River

Photo of foam at Rogue River on April 6, 2018. Photo taken by AECOM during the sampling event.

by Judy Reed

An unusual foam has appeared on water bodies in Michigan located near known sources of PFAS, including the Rogue River near the Rockford dam. And if you are someone who likes to swim in or use the Rogue River for recreational purposes, you’ll want to make sure you don’t swallow that foam floating on the water.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHH) and Kent County Health Department (KCHD) issued a health advisory on Tuesday, June 5, with that warning after testing came back from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on June 4.

According to a report from the MDHH, surface water samples from the Rogue River and its tributary Rum Creek were collected in October 2017, and a sample of foam observed on the Rogue River near the Rockford Dam was collected in April 2018. Concentrations of PFAS in the foam were high relative to concentrations in the surface water.

Because of the amounts of PFAS found in that foam, MDHHS and KCHD have concluded that swallowing the foam may pose a human health risk. Therefore, the two agencies are advising people to take precautions against swallowing the foam while using the river recreationally.

The MDHHS advised that neither contact with skin, nor incidental ingestion of, PFAS-containing water during recreational activities in the Rogue River are expected to pose a risk to human health. It was mainly ingestion of the foam that posed the health risk.

The report noted there are other potential exposure pathways of PFAS near the Rogue River, including the consumption of locally-caught non-migratory fish or the drinking of water from wells that have an elevated concentration of PFAS. So avoiding contact with river foam alone may not ensure you won’t be exposed to PFAS.

The MDHHS has issued Eat Safe Fish guidelines for the Rogue River due to a variety of chemicals, including PFOS and mercury. See Michigan.gov/eatsafefish for more info on that.

In the meantime, the MDEQ will continue to monitor the foam on the Rogue River.



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