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State regulators to start using new test for PFAS

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The State of Michigan will start using a new test to detect so-called “forever chemicals” in drinking water.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will begin using U.S. EPA Method 533 this month. The method tests for twenty-five kinds of chemicals called PFAS, including the seven PFAS currently regulated by the State of Michigan. PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are a family of industrial chemicals linked to serious human health problems.

“This move to the new lab testing methodology shouldn’t be noticeable to the general public in that sample collecting and shipping to the lab really doesn’t change, although it provides longer “hold time” for samples (from 14 days to 28 days) which will reduce sample spoilage,” said EGLE spokesman Scott Dean.

The former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda is one of the best known contamination sites in Michigan. For decades, firefighters were trained at the long-closed base to use firefighting foam. The foam contained PFAS.

Oscoda activist Tony Spaniola calls the new test an “important development.”

“As concerns about PFAS exposures continue to grow, it’s critical to have the most current testing technology here in Michigan,” said Spaniola. “This will bring more complete and comprehensive test results for communities all across our state.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.