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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- Residential water wells test positive for PFAS pollution – Traverse City Record-Eagle
In East Bay Township, public health officials recently tested drinking water wells following the discovery of high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the groundwater near the Pine Grove subdivision. Health officials confirmed some PFAS levels were discovered in all 15 wells that were tested.
- Study to examine long-term health impacts of PFAS in West Michigan – Michigan Radio
The study, led by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is recruiting participants from four communities in West Michigan: Parchment and Cooper Township in Kalamazoo County, and Belmont and Rockford in Kent County. Those are areas where historic PFAS contamination is known to have tainted drinking water.
- State says Saranac Lake airport contaminated by PFAS – Times Union
The state last week labeled the Adirondack Regional Airport, a town-owned airfield near Saranac Lake, a hazardous waste site. Like hundreds of other airports across the country, Adirondack Regional over the years sprayed firefighting foam that contains chemicals now known to cause cancer and other health problems. Tests also found the chemicals in a nearby mobile home park, the Adirondack Airport Community.
- DNR Asks Tyco To Expand Sampling Of Fish For PFAS – Wisconsin Public Radio
The move comes after sampling in private ponds near Tyco’s fire training facility showed fish had PFAS concentrations that would trigger restrictions on eating fish.
- Madison mayor, City Council members seek funds for PFAS testing at airport training areas – Wisconsin State Journal
A budget amendment sponsored by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and three City Council members requests an additional $50,000 next year for PFAS “testing and planning at the Dane County Regional Airport, Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing Base, and surrounding area.”
The city, along with Dane County and the Wisconsin National Guard, is responsible for investigation and cleanup of suspected contamination at two former training areas near the airport.
- Deer Hunt 2020: PFAS find triggers deer liver advisory – Fox 11 News
The advisory covers an area five miles around what scientists consider to be the center of the issue, the Tyco Fire Technology Center in Marinette. Recent DNR testing shows the livers of 20 deer harvested in the area contained high levels of PFAS.
- La Crosse Airport spends more on PFAS search – WIZM News
La Crosse’s aviation board is putting more money into the search for PFAS chemicals in French Island ground water. The board has voted to spend $75,000 on the continuing effort to find pollution from firefighting foam that’s been used at the airport.
- Online PFAS listening sessions continue this week – Fox 11 News
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is holding online listening sessions on PFAS contamination in Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities.
“At this stage we don’t know if it will impact a corona vaccination, but it’s a risk,” said Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We would have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.”
- U.S. military responsible for widespread PFAS pollution in Japan – The Intercept
While communities across the U.S. have been struggling with massive pollution from the military’s use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS, Japan has awoken to its own environmental crisis from the industrial chemicals in the foam. The growing awareness of the issue in Japan is largely due to one reporter: Jon Mitchell, a British investigative journalist based in Tokyo, who has spent years chronicling environmental contamination in the Asia-Pacific region.
His most recent book, “Poisoning the Pacific: The U.S. Military’s Dumping of Plutonium, Chemical Weapons, and Agent Orange,” is based on thousands of pages of documents he obtained from the U.S. military through the Freedom of Information Act; they detail the widespread contamination of bases and the areas surrounding them with PFAS and other hazardous substances, including chemical weapons, Agent Orange, jet fuel, and PCBs.
President-elect Biden pledged in an environmental plan to designate PFAS as hazardous within the Superfund cleanup law, and to set limits for these chemicals in the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Superfund law, or CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act), deals with liability for and remediation of hazardous chemicals.
Catch up with PFAS news on Great Lakes Now:
Featured image: Wisconsin deer (Photo by Nick Olejniczak via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)