PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of widespread man-made chemicals that don’t break down in the environment or the human body. They are used in a range of products, including waterproof fabrics, firefighting foam and non-stick cookware.
Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes region with this collection of news stories.
In this edition: Some lawmakers feel new PFAS legislation won’t even clear the Senate. A major source of PFAS has many fire departments scrambling to find an improved extinguishing foam as New York and Wisconsin lawmakers look at banning firefighting spray that contains it. Local kids design a way to filter harmful chemicals from the water.
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HR 535 was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, but the chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee says it won’t pass the Senate. HR 535 would force the EPA to set drinking water standards for PFAS and potentially add 1,500 known pollution locations to the list of Superfund cleanup sites.
State officials are listening to public input around the state, including near Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Roscommon. Input from these meetings has been heated.
A Senate committee advanced a Republican bill by a 3-2 party line vote that would ban the use of firefighting foam that contains chemicals known as PFAS in most cases. Democratic lawmakers objected, saying the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect the public.
Wisconsin’s Rhinelander High School’s Earth and Environmental Systems class was trying to design an effective, affordable filter for water. The teacher assgined the project after the contaminant was found in city water supplies this summer.
Officials say that the state has passed a two-year milestone as a national leader in responding to PFAS in drinking water, including a $1.4 million cleanup and disposal project for firefighting foam.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has responded to a PFAS contamination that they have linked to a nearby fire and security products manufacturer in Marinette.
Testing has found two PFAS contamination sites in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The city has hired an independent research firm to dig into the cause of the contamination and find out how extensive the problem is.
Featured Image: Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C., Photo by Gage Skidmore via flickr.com cc 2.0
Watch the Great Lakes Now documentary about the impacts of PFAS in west Michigan communities: