Michigan's next water crisis is PFAS - and you may already be affected

July 10, 2018

Source: Paula Gardner and Garret Ellison
Department: MLive

Martha Gottlieb's hands couldn't grip a glass after she moved into her new home. She started to suspect her water when Sunny, her boxer mix, refused to drink from her bowl.

Donna Tingley relocated to a northern Michigan lakefront home for the fishing, but she's no longer willing to eat her catch after seeing the thick, toxic white foam that now pollutes the shoreline. The lake is no fun anymore, she said, and she wants to sell her house.

Seth and Tobyn McNaughton worry about how the chemicals they unknowingly drank in their water will affect their health - and, given the high quantity of pollution, whether they'll hurt their 2-year-old son, Jack.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known collectively as PFAS or PFCs, are contaminating water supplies and the environment across both peninsulas of Michigan.

The toxic compounds are found in our rivers, our lakes, our soil, our groundwater, our drinking water, our fish, our food, our bodies and our Great Lakes. They are, as one scientist who helped manufacture them noted, the "most insidious pollutant since PCBs."

"They call them 'zombie chemicals,'" said Cathy Wusterbarth, a former lifeguard on a contaminated lake who wonders if past bouts with breast cancer and rheumatoid arthritis are linked to the PFAS that's been spreading through the local groundwater for decades.

"You don't see them. You don't smell them. They just slowly affect you," Wusterbarth said.

To date, more than 30 sites in 15 communities across Michigan have confirmed PFAS contamination in the soil, groundwater or surface water. Uncertainty shrouds the sites as residents worry about their health and property, and question whether their government is doing enough to protect them.

Read the entire article Michigan's next water crisis is PFAS - and you may already be affected.

Read our recent blog post about PFAS.

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