Michigan cities selected for federal PFAS exposure study

October 16, 2019

Source: Kristina Lenn
Department: The Michigan Daily

In response to growing concern regarding per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan's Department of Health and Human Services announced in September they will begin working together to determine the harmful health effects of PFAS in drinking water on Michigan residents.

PFAS are a wide variety of chemicals produced by manufacturing, industrial and agricultural processes. In Michigan and some other states across the country, PFAS is a growing threat to drinking water. Ann Arbor residents have become increasingly concerned with the levels of PFAS contamination in Washtenaw County, especially in the Huron River. Last May, the city launched a transparency initiative to detail updates on water quality.

The state of Michigan has more sites contaminated with PFAS than any other in the United States. As a result, the CDC and DHHS will examine PFAS exposure in Parchment/Cooper Township and North Kent County.

In a September press release, Patrick Breysse, director of the CDC s National Center for Environmental Health, said the effort would help researchers learn more about the effects of PFAS exposure.

"There is much that is unknown about the health effects of exposure to these chemicals," Breysse wrote. "The multi-site study will advance the scientific evidence on the human health effects of PFAS and provide some answers to communities exposed to the contaminated drinking water."

Terese Olson, professor of civil and environmental engineering, said PFAS contamination is ultimately a sustainability issue.

"Here you have emissions of these compounds in the environment that aren t going to go anywhere," Olson said. "And (they) will only build up. It makes no sense. It s unsustainable."

Due to PFAS resistance to things like grease and water, PFAS have been used for stain-resistant materials and cleaning products. However, because of their incredibly strong carbon-fluorine bonds, PFAS are not easily broken down, leading to elevated levels of PFAS in food, water, and the human body. Exposure to PFAS could increase cancer risk and cholesterol levels, as well as impede child development.

Read the entire article Michigan cities selected for federal PFAS exposure study.

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