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Issues Of The Environment: Michigan's New, More Stringent PFAS Standards In Place

Sep 9, 2020

Mara Herman, health policy specialist at the Ecology Center
Credit Erica Bertram / The Ecology Center

Michigan passed new standards for PFAS back in July, and, in August, the most strict regulations in America went into effect.  On this week's "Issues of the Environment," Mara Herman, Health Policy Specialist for the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, will discuss the new standards and what it means to environmental and public health with WEMU's David Fair. 


Overview

  • The move means Michiganders who get their water from a municipal supply will soon have a greater degree of protection from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), chemicals found in non-stick coating, firefighting foam, and other products.  The chemicals have been linked to cancer, thyroid issues, and other health conditions.  They have been found at some level in public water serving about 1.9 million people in Michigan.
  • The new standards also lowered the threshold for cleanup of PFAS-laden groundwater, a move designed to address contamination at the source rather than relying solely on water suppliers to remove it from already-contaminated drinking water.
  • The new standards mean that many municipal supplies are now exceeding the allowable levels of PFAS in drinking water.  Municipal water providers are now required to test their water quarterly for the state’s regulated PFAS chemicals.  A failing grade for four consecutive quarters counts as a water quality violation.  State drinking water standards don’t apply to household wells.
  • Ann Arbor’s water source, the Huron River, is a known source of PFAS.  However, water entering Ann Arbor’s municipal water is treated with the latest carbon filtration technology and is considered “safe to drink” for the PFAS contaminants that are screened for.  The new standards do not cover every type of PFAS.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu