A scientific panel think Michigan’s standard for protecting drinking water from toxins
A scientific panel said Michigan’s standard for protecting drinking water from certain toxic chemicals may not be strong enough to safeguard human health. According to Fox17, the panel was convened by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder.
This finding by the Michigan PFAS Science Advisory Committee highlighted a 99-page report to state officials struggling with the emergence of pollution from man-made chemicals known as PFAS.
According to Fox17, this group of chemicals is used in thousands of applications such as stick-resistant cookware, food packaging, cleansers and water-repellent clothing.
The chemicals are described as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the human body or the environment. According to Fox17, they have been linked to a variety of health problems including liver and kidney damage and compromised immune systems and may cause cancer.
According to Fox17, Michigan is conducting statewide testing of community water and school supplies for PFAS. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is investing more than 30 known contamination spots, including industrial site, military installations and landfills.
The threshold is based on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level. According to Fox17, some environmental groups and lawmakers are pushing the DEQ to adopt a lower trigger point because some PFAS chemicals can cause harm at lower concentrations in drinking water.
“We are dealing with shades of gray here. It’s not a black-and-white issue,” said David Savitz, the panel’s chairman and an epidemiology professor at Brown University, to Fox17. “I’m quite comfortable saying we don’t know, but have expressed our view that (70 ppt) might not be adequately protective.”
Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer’s administration and state legislators will decide whether the existing threshold is adequate, according to Fox17.
“Working with local health authorities, we will continue to advocate alternative water or enhanced water treatment for communities with unusual levels of any PFAS contamination even when below 70 ppt,” said Carol Isaacs, director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, to Fox17.
According to Isaacs, the report would give state policymakers good background for debating enforceable standards.
The report also called for testing volunteers living near high-level PFAS sites and said the state should broaden its water supply testing to include a wider variety of PFAS chemicals.