Growing PFAS water contamination crisis highlights need for stronger, enforceable drinking water standard
ROCKFORD, Mich. – The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (Michigan LCV) today joined impacted residents, PFAS activists and lawmakers at a press conference at North Rockford Middle School to call on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and elected officials to set a safe, enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances).
“The more we look for PFAS contamination, the more we find, and with our children’s health on the line, Michiganders deserve answers and action from our elected leaders,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of Michigan LCV. “Our message to the public today is simple: 70-parts per trillion (ppt) is not safe. The state is providing misleading guidance to school districts on how to talk about PFAS testing at their children’s schools and not being transparent about the proven health impacts of PFAS exposure. The state is using the EPA’s non-enforceable advisory level of 70-ppt to decide whether water in our schools is safe for our children to drink, but this level has been proven to be far too high to protect our kids.”
The MDEQ is currently testing drinking water in more than 450 schools, but is using an EPA advisory threshold of 70-parts per trillion (ppt) to determine if the water is safe. A recently released federal study found levels of PFAS in drinking water deemed “safe” to be as low as 7- and 11-ppt, much lower than the 70-ppt threshold currently being used by the MDEQ.
In December 2017, State Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) introduced legislation that would create a statewide drinking water standard at 5-ppt. Her legislation has yet to see any movement.
“PFAS contamination has truly grown into a statewide water crisis with potentially 11,300 more contaminated sites yet to be discovered,” said Rep. Winnie Brinks. “My legislation would enact a strong, enforceable PFAS standard of 5- parts per trillion, which will protect the health of Michigan communities. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and help pass a statewide drinking water standard to tackle this growing water crisis.”
Last week, MLive reported drinking water at Alto Elementary School in Kent County was found to contain 21-ppt of PFHxS and 2-ppt of PFBS. Both chemicals fall under the PFAS family, and exposure can cause negative health impacts.
“We must be certain students, teachers and staff have drinking water that is free of dangerous chemicals,” said Dr. Michael Shibler, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools. “That’s why we need a robust and enforceable statewide drinking water standard that is based on science.”
“My home on Chandler Drive – near a former landfill where Wolverine World Wide dumped tannery waste containing PFAS chemicals – has the second highest rate of PFAS contamination on our street: a startling 10,320-parts per trillion,” said Lisa Ingraham, Rockford resident. “We need a statewide drinking water standard that is based on science to protect my children, my neighbors and communities across Michigan.”
“Testing drinking water in communities across Michigan is a good first step, but we also need an enforceable drinking water standard that ensures all Michiganders have clean water,” said Cody Angell with Michigan Demands Action Against Contamination.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018
Contact: Katie Parrish, Communications Director, (239) 537-9507