Community leaders join lawmakers to discuss PFAS legislation

The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network is partnering with local state lawmakers to protect communities from hazardous PFAS material.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 5:38 PM EDT
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MICHIGAN (WNEM) - The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network is partnering with local state lawmakers to protect communities from the hazardous PFAS material.

The policies lawmakers aim to implement are to ensure food, water, and local areas aren’t contaminated with PFAS.

“PFAS chemicals have been linked to a number of health complications including cancer, thyroid conditions, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive issues,” said Laurie Pohutsky, Livonia resident and State Representative of District 17.

For these reasons and more, leaders from communities impacted by PFAS contamination joined state lawmakers to highlight legislative action to protect the health of communities in Michigan.

“That’s why our new leadership in Lansing is making this issue a high priority to protect our drinking water and health and hold leaders accountable,” Pohutsky said.

PFAS are considered forever chemicals because of how long they take to break down in the environment.

PFAS was first publicly reported in Oscoda. Since then, the state of Michigan has identified more than 11,000 potential PFAS contaminated sites.

“The foam that we deal with in Oscoda is everywhere in our state,” said Tony Spaniola, co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, Oscoda homeowner, and PFAS expert.

He said most people are unaware of it.

“The harms of PFAS are real and tangible for us, in the form of the disease, in the form of unsafe venison, unsafe small game, unsafe surface water and shoreline foam, unsafe fish, unsafe drinking water,” Spaniola explained.

“My husband died of liver cancer and it was the following year that I learned that I was drinking PFAS contaminated water,” said Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network and Belmont resident.

The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network is calling on legislators for more to be done.

“The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network must include prohibiting the sale of PFAS containing products except when no safer alternative exists and expand PFAS monitoring and testing in the surface water body,” said Brenda Carter, State Representative of District 29.

The speakers also emphasized the need to give people access to blood tests to identify PFAS in their system and give people impacted access to medical care.

Both lawmakers and residents pushed to hold companies accountable for PFAS pollution.