Withholding of MDEQ PFAS report demonstrates need for more urgent action, increased transparency to address PFAS contamination
LANSING – The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Michigan LCV) today joined Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), health professionals, PFAS experts and concerned citizens on a tele-news conference to call for increased transparency at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) after the recent uncovering of a PFAS contamination report that was withheld from the public since 2012.
“Despite knowing the health dangers posed by PFAS, the DEQ purposefully suppressed a report packed with recommendations that could have protected families before contamination levels hit record-highs in communities like Rockford and Oscoda. This is not only completely unacceptable, it is an outrage,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “The DEQ is responsible for protecting our communities and our drinking water. We need a full and immediate investigation into how and why this alarming report was swept under the rug while families continued to be exposed to toxins that are linked to cancers, thyroid disorders and other diseases.”
The DEQ report was publicized by MLive Tuesday. According to MLive, the report was presented to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2012 and found excessive levels of PFAS contamination in Lake Erie and Oscoda. The report recommended the MDEQ develop a plan to address PFAS contamination. However, MDEQ officials failed to take action and withheld the report from the public.
“The seriousness of PFAS contamination cannot be overstated. I have been working with both Republicans and Democrats to bring attention to this crisis and get emergency funding for drinking water and contamination clean-up. One thing is clear: more needs to be done to make sure that Michigan families have access to safe drinking water. Every level of government—including the state of Michigan, the EPA and the Air Force—must act more quickly to clean up contamination, expand access to health care and strengthen drinking water standards,” said Congressman Dan Kildee.
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are dangerous chemicals that have been used in a variety of industries beginning in the 1940s. Fifteen communities across Michigan are grappling with drinking water contaminated with PFAS. Exposure to PFAS can lead to health issues including cancer, thyroid disorders, elevated cholesterol and other diseases.
“The state of Michigan’s disregard of critical warning signs about contamination from these dangerous chemicals is irresponsible and has caused untold harm to families and communities across Michigan,” said Tony Spaniola, Oscoda resident and PFAS expert. “This is a failure of leadership by top officials in state government, whose conduct remains clouded in a shroud of secrecy that must be stripped away. For the benefit of all of the public and particularly those who are suffering, an independent and thorough investigation should be launched immediately.”
“PFAS are commonly referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ because they persist in the environment, they don’t break down and they also accumulate in the body over time causing, long-term health complications,” said Dr. Maricel Maffini, expert consultant for Environmental Defense Fund. “The PFAS family of chemicals is remarkably large and exposure is widespread. For the few chemicals we have information, they are hazardous to our health; many have not been studied or identified. It’s concerning that the MDEQ appears to have withheld this important study and did not take action in the communities where PFAS was detected.”
“The Plainfield community has been impacted by dangerous levels of PFAS contamination, and this recent MLive report highlights the dire need for more transparency at the Department of Environmental Quality and bold action from our elected leaders,” said Cody Angell with Michigan Demands Action Against Contamination. (MDAAC). “The effects of PFAS contamination have wide-ranging impacts across the state, and we need leaders to start taking this issue seriously and protect our drinking water and our families’ health.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 12, 2018
Contact: Katie Parrish, Communications Director, (239) 537-9507