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PFAS News Roundup: PFAS puts pregnancies at risk, Nestle and La Croix among waters with elevated PFAS

PFAS News Roundup: PFAS puts pregnancies at risk, Nestle and La Croix among waters with elevated PFAS
September 24, 2020 Natasha Blakely

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 and have been flagged as a major contaminant in sources of water across the country.

Keep up with PFAS-related developments in the Great Lakes area.

In this edition: Governors send letters to U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense; studies show PFAS linked to pregnancy risks; and study shows Nestle, Topo Chico and La Croix among water brands with elevated concentrations of PFAS.

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Michigan:

Testing of private residential wells near the Grand Ledge Army Support Facility did not detect PFOS or PFOA, among the most common varieties of PFAS chemicals, the Michigan National Guard said Wednesday in a release.

Samples taken last year from the facility grounds were found to have been contaminated with PFAS substances. A retention pond on the site had PFO concentration at 141 parts per trillion, more than twice the limit required for cleanup. One shallow groundwater well had a combined total of 113 parts per trillion of PFAS.

Legislators in Michigan have proposed a new regulation that would lengthen the statute of limitations to bring PFAS claims to six years after remediation starts.  The legislators also proposed another bill that would trigger the statute of limitations for bringing PFAS suits on the date it was known or should have been known that a PFAS release occurred, rather than the existing triggering event, which is when the PFAS was actually released.

Whitmer has written a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force John Henderson.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy also sent a letter to the Air Force identifying the State’s PFAS clean-up standards that EGLE expects the Air Force to meet.

In a report released Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found higher average and maximum PFAS levels in about 400 people drinking groundwater polluted by global footwear company Wolverine World Wide, which dumped tannery waste laden with 3M Scotchgard into unlined landfills and gravel pits.

The PFAS exposure assessment is considered a pre-requisite to a broader epidemiological study that would potentially link the contamination levels to incidence of disease.

Minnesota:

Oakdale residents who drank water polluted with toxic “forever chemicals” experienced elevated rates of infertility, premature births and low birthweight babies due to the contaminants, according to a multiyear review of health records.

The authors of the peer-reviewed research, published in April in the journal Environmental Health, say it’s the first to establish a causal link between the chemicals and reproductive impacts. It could be evidence in scores of lawsuits attempting to hold manufacturers, such as Maplewood-based 3M Co. and DuPont, accountable for alleged health and environmental damages

Ohio:

In the letter, Gov. Mike DeWine states that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base could be a potential source for perfluorooctanoic acid contamination.

Dayton has a system of monitoring wells, which detected PFAS levels that were over Health Advisory Level in 2018.

Wisconsin:

Tyco Fire Products, a subsidiary of Johnson Controls, notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of a sheen on top of the water in Ditch B on Thursday, according to a news release.

Typically, the water moving through that ditch is treated for contamination of PFAS — so-called forever chemicals — but the company decided to shut down the filtration system in order to prevent any of the oil from damaging the system. The company installed booms and absorbent padding to catch and clean up the substance, the release said, and is in the process of conducting a cleanup.

Rep. John Nygren, of Marinette, represents a district with the worst known contamination from the hazardous synthetic compounds, which have been linked to cancer and other illnesses.

“Over the last year I have heard on multiple occasions, from both stakeholders and the DNR, that a lack of resources is hampering the DNR’s response to PFAS contamination,” Nygren said Friday. “Considering this, I was surprised that the DNR’s budget request did not contain any requests to help the agency address PFAS contamination.”

The agency filed a $1.2 billion biennial budget request on Tuesday that contains just one reference to PFAS — as one of several contaminants that would be addressed as part of a $25 million Great Lakes sediment cleanup project.

Based on the survey conducted this spring, the DNR estimates there are between 63,200 and 96,300 gallons of foam on hand, including more than 30,000 gallons of expired or unwanted foam. That’s significantly more than the agency had previously predicted.

The survey also found that 62% of departments that have used the foam do not have any guidelines, policies or best practices in place for using it. Most fire departments said they reserved the foam for use on flammable liquids, but 38% reported using the foam on all types of fires.

National:

Scientists think these widely used industrial chemicals may harm pregnant women and their developing babies by meddling with gene regulators and hormones that control two of the body’s most critical functions: metabolism and immunity.

More disturbing, PFAS can also alter levels of both mothers’ and babies’ thyroid hormones, which oversee brain development, growth and metabolism, and also play a role in immunity. Prenatal PFAS exposures that disrupt metabolism and immunity may cause immediate and lasting effects on both mother and child.

Carbonated waters from LaCroix, Topo Chico, Poland Spring and Perrier all have levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, called PFAS, that are slightly higher than what some scientists deem safe, according to a report from Consumer Reports.

Seven of 12 brands were highlighted as having higher levels of PFAS in the report. While none of them exceeded the suggested levels for tap water from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that limit is seen by many scientists and some state regulators as too lax. The beverage industry’s trade group and several of the manufacturers called the testing flawed and said their products are safe.


Catch up with other PFAS headlines and news from Great Lakes Now:

Indiana universities receive grants to study PFAS impact on water quality

PFAS News Roundup: PFAS in fast food packaging, every Madison well

Coping with PFAS: How have families been dealing with PFAS contamination in their communities

PFAS Progress: Michigan continues legislative push for more action against PFAS

PFAS Around the Great Lakes Region: Actions taken in each state or province and standards set, if any


Featured image: Lime La Croix (Photo credit: Stock Catalog www.quotecatalog.com/quotes/inspirational via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

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