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Department of Environmental Quality demonstrates infrared drone being used to find PFAs

Ben Thorp

The state demonstrated a drone Tuesday that it’s using to search for hazardous chemicals in Lake Margrethe in Crawford County.

The lake, near Grayling, is one of 35 sites across Michigan being investigated for perfluoroalkyl substance contamination. PFAs are a family of chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems in humans. 

Randall Rothe is with the Department of Environmental Quality. He said they are using infrared sensors on the drone to detect cold water springs that could be carrying PFAs into the lake.

“That gives us an area to upland. We can do some monitor wells we can do some borings we can look up there and say now that we know where it’s coming in where is it coming from on the surface.”

Rothe said testing is expected to continue next week.

Two residential wells along the lake have tested over the federal action limit of 70 parts per trillion.

DEQ officials say if this method is successful in helping identify the source of PFAS, it could be used at other locations across the state.