PFAS News Roundup: PFOS in fish, Wisconsin standards in dispute, lacking regulations in Canada

PFAS News Roundup: PFOS in fish, Wisconsin standards in dispute, lacking regulations in Canada
November 6, 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.

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Of the sites in Oscoda Township contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, Clark’s Marsh has been referred to as a “hot spot” for several years. Purdue University has been studying this particular location, and an update on their efforts was shared during a virtual community meeting Oct. 20, hosted by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team.


One chemical in the PFAS family is showing up more often and in greater concentrations in fish – PFOS.

“We do have a pretty heavy data set. We’ve analyzed over 2,000 (fish) filets across the state for PFAS. And if you look at the average concentration of PFAS, individual PFAS in an average filet PFOS, makes up 82% of the total PFAS in that average filet,” said Brandon Armstrong, an aquatic biologist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy during a presentation on an online PFAS summit.


Nearly two months after a new law went into effect restricting the use of hazardous firefighting foams, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is still trying to write rules for enforcing it amid disputes over what is considered foam and how to define effective treatment.

Passed late last year on a bipartisan vote, Act 101 restricts the use of foam containing compounds known as PFAS to emergency situations and testing facilities with “appropriate containment, treatment and disposal measures.”

The law doesn’t define those containment, treatment and disposal measures, however. That’s up to the DNR to do through a rulemaking process.


Unlike pesticides or pharmaceutical drugs, a significant portion of the more than 6,300 different types of PFAS on the market have little to no data on their use, toxicity and chemical structure and are not currently regulated or restricted in Canada, according to a report by the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

Lathrop GPM LLP attorneys say more federal and state action on PFAS in groundwater is likely under a Biden administration, but is also possible under another Trump administration. They say companies facing potential liability should prepare for more regulation regardless of who wins the election, and they suggest specific steps to do so.

Catch up with PFAS news on Great Lakes Now:

Michigan PFAS activist has cancer, says she’s not surprised

Citizen Excellence: Sandy Wynn-Stelt receives EPA award for efforts to combat PFAS

Indiana universities receive grants to study PFAS impact on water quality

PFAS News Roundup: Huron River contamination levels drop, New York PFAS cleanup could be delayed

PFAS News Roundup: Landfills, Wisconsin action plan, AGs urge congress to be tough on PFAS

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

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Featured image: (Image from Michigan EGLE’s Michigan PFAS Action Response Team)


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