What you need to know about PFAS - WNEM TV 5

What you need to know about PFAS

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

The state of Michigan is facing another water crisis.

Families in Oscoda are dealing with contaminants left from the Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

“You can see it’s a very big issue in the state today and actually in the nation,” said Tony Anthony, expert on PFAS.

PFAS is a contaminant Oscoda residents have been dealing with in their groundwater for years. It is a chemical used in Teflon and waterproofing.

“It was a way that you could coat a material and that material then would be resistant to oils and would be resistant to water,” Anthony said.

Anthony works with AKT-Peerless, a company that deals with environmental and economic development.

The foam spotted floating on Van Etten Lake is a byproduct of PFAS.

Anthony said too much exposure to the chemical poses health risks.

“Thyroid damage, high cholesterol, testicular cancer and kidney function,” Anthony said.

He said the PFAS are in more places than just water.

“It even went to the extent of being in pizza boxes to keep oil from soaking through the cardboard. Or in microwave popcorn to keep the oil from going through the paper. Or in all fast food wrappers again to control the oil,” Anthony said.

That’s why Anthony said everyone has some level of PFAS in their bloodstream.

He said the general public is just beginning to learn about PFAS.

That’s not the case in Oscoda. Anthony’s company recently secured a grant to help residents there gain access to Oscoda’s municipal water system, which is a much safer alternative.

“By getting people off the groundwater and onto a municipal system, we’ve now reduced the exposure. That should be the first thrust of what we do here,” Anthony said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality released the following statement on PFAS:

Michigan has moved faster than any state in addressing PFAS contamination. We moved quickly to protect people from potentially unsafe drinking water in communities with known PFAS contamination from historic industrial or military activities.

MPART is taking this next proactive step to survey other parts of the state and gather important baseline data on the presence of this emerging contaminant in the environment.

MPART is helping to coordinate the state’s $23 million effort to locate PFAS contamination, identify sources and oversee remediation activities aimed at protecting the state’s water resources and mitigating risks to the public.

The state is also prepared to assist local officials in identifying sources of PFAS pollution and, where necessary, take enforcement action against polluters.

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