GRAND RAPIDS — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced that it will sample 49 residential drinking water wells along Trout Creek in the neighborhood east of the 36th Street exits off I-96 and west of Tricklewood Drive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as part of its ongoing investigation of potential PFAS contamination sources near the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Cascade Township.
The MDEQ will contact property owners in the study area through the mail by March 22 to schedule a sampling appointment. Residents who are not contacted by March 22 but believe they may be in the study area can contact the MDEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division’s project manager Aaron Assmann at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 430-5275.
To receive future updates from MDEQ on this investigation, register for the “Cascade Township Residential Wells Sampling and PFAS Analysis” listserv at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/MIDEQ/subscriber/new?TGopic_id=MIDEQ_323.
The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) also maintains a web page dedicated to this investigation at www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse/0,9038,7-365-88059_91108_91319-491804–,00.html.
Health related questions about PFAS can be directed to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at (800) 662-9278 or the Kent County Health Department at (616) 632-7100.
PFAS were once widely used in nonstick cookware, firefighting foam, waterproof clothing, food packaging, and other consumer products. There is scientific evidence that the compounds affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and children, interfere with fertility, increase cholesterol levels, damage the immune and hormonal systems, and increase cancer risk.
There is dispute over whether the current federal limit of PFAS in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion is low enough to protect health. David Savitz, professor of epidemiology at Brown University and chair of a science advisory panel former Gov. Rick Snyder convened to study the PFAS issue, told the Detroit Free Press in December that the 70 ppt standard “may not provide a sufficient margin of safety” for public health. Savitz said it is “within a range that it is certainly possible that there would be adverse health effects.” Bob Allison, deputy director of the nonprofit Michigan League of Conservation Voters, added that “this is what we have said all along, what leading scientists and toxicologists have said all along, that 70 parts per trillion is entirely too high to protect public health, especially for children and the unborn.”
A federal recommendation last June backed reducing the limit to 7 parts per trillion for PFOS and 11 parts per trillion for PFOA.
The state’s MPART investigation includes sampling dozens of locations across the state, including industrial buildings, military bases, and landfills known to have used or disposed of PFAS-containing materials MPART is now investigating more than 43 sites with known sources of PFAS contamination across the state.
In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer strengthened MPART by reestablishing it under Executive Order 2019-3 as a permanent body within the MDEQ.