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Michigan's Democratic Lawmakers Continue Call For PFAS Hearings, Legislation

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Michigan’s Democratic lawmakers are demanding the state Legislaturetake action on contaminated groundwater found across the state.  The Legislature is back from its summer break this week with its first day of voting today.

Democrats say now is the time to strengthen PFAS water quality standards.  PFAS are a man-made family of chemicals that have been used in things like fire-fighting foam.  They’ve been popping up in groundwater in communities around the state.

Representative Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) introduced legislation last December she said would help with the issue.  It would change the state’s drinking water standards to not allow as much PFAS in what is considered safe drinking water.

“This cap would be the lowest in the country and would ensure that the water coming out of Michiganders' taps is worthy of being called ‘pure,’” she said.

Recently, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services put out a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for fish.  It stretches from a portion of the Huron River in Oakland County to where the river enters Lake Erie in Wayne County because of chemicals in the water.

Representative Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) said he wants the state Department of Environmental Quality to testify in an oversight hearing. 

“So I have three coffee hours every month in my district and I have residents coming and asking me about the quality of the drinking water,” he said.  “And we can calm those fears by bringing in the department and finding out what they know.”

Representative Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills) agreed that oversight hearings about PFAS are crucial.

“There is so much information out there, but yet we’re only hearing about it in bits and parts,” she said.  “The entire public needs to know about this, needs to know what the current science is, what some of the potential solutions are.”

Republicans say they have been working on the PFAS problem.  Representative Laura Cox chairs the House Appropriations Committee.  She said she’s had meetings with scientists and experts and included money to help with PFAS in the state’s budget.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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