On August, 3, Michigan’s new rules on PFAS limits in drinking water go into effect. PFAS is short for a family of flourinated molecules, some of which have been broadly used in things like Telfon, food wrappers, Scotchguard and fire fighting foams. They have been associated with health risks including some forms of cancer, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. Partly as a result of Michigan’s manufacturing heritage, and also from military bases, Michigan has almost 100 sites of known groundwater contamination.
Because of our quickly growing knowledge of the extent of PFAS contamination around Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to start an emergency rules making process in the spring of 2019. The process was focused on seven different types of PFAS.
The maximum contaminant levels are among the strictest in the nation (see table below). The new rules also lay out processes for sampling and public notification for municipal water suppliers. You can find the rules here if you want to wade into them.
We spoke out in the early stakeholder meetings to shape the rules, and again in the public comment period to continue to push for improvements. We’re happy to see the rules in place, but recognize this is only a starting point. We must do more to protect our families from this threat.
We continue to advocate for treating the chemical group as a class. Michigan can’t protect our families by playing whack-a-mole when we regulate one chemical and it’s simply replaced by another dangerous one. We continue to advocate for stricter protection limits to protect our most vulnerable populations. And, we continue to push for responsible parties to pay for cleanup of contaminated sites.