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Health, Science and Environment

State completes first of its kind PFAs study

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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced on Monday the completion of its first statewide study of perfluoroalkyl substances contamination, or PFAs, in water supplies around Michigan.

PFAs are a group of emerging contaminants that have been found in water supplies across the state and are linked to health problems in humans.

The year-long study tested more than one thousand public water systems, 461 schools, and 17 tribal water systems accounting for roughly 75% of the state’s drinking water.

Scott Dean is with the DEQ.

“The state has done something that literally no other state in the union has performed: we literally have tested all of the public water systems and all of the schools in the state.”

Dean said 90% of the public water systems they tested showed no contamination. 7% tested below 10 parts-per-trillion. The remaining 3% tested between 10 and 70 parts per trillion.

The EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion.

He said the state will continue to monitor sites testing between 10 and 70 parts per trillion.

“Those locations that had total PFAs results between 10 and 70 will be tested quarterly this year as we continue to help those municipals and those schools track down where this may be coming from.”

Two locations in Michigan tested above the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level. One was in Ottawa County, the other in Kalamazoo County. Dean said the state has helped those places connect to new water supplies or given them bottled water.

This year, the state is expected to test several Head Start programs that were closed during the winter and three community water systems that could not be scheduled in 2018.