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Science advisory group recommends much stricter PFAS standards for Michigan

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

A Michigan science advisory workgroup released recommendations on Thursday for the state to implement some of the strictest standards in the nation for PFAS.

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team received health-based recommendations from the workgroup for seven PFAS compounds. It recommends setting drinking water limits as low as six parts per trillion.

The current EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion, although that advisory level is only for PFOS and PFOA. Scott Dean is with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Read More: PFAS: Where have they been found in public water supplies?

“These levels that have been proposed are designed to be health protective not only for adults but also for infants and even the unborn,” Dean said. “These are prenatal values.”

The recommendations will be used as part of a rulemaking process will include public hearings and comment.

“This will inform that work, but obviously EGLE needs to get other input and also public comment to determine the feasibility,” Dean said.

A press release from EGLE noted that the workgroup also recommended that MPART and water supply operators work to reduce contamination from other long-chain PFAS when they're found at levels above 6 ppt. 

“Long chain PFAS tend to stay in the body longer, they tend to bioaccumulate longer so when they are found above six parts per trillion, they (the work group) are suggesting that people take action to try to find the source and reduce the source,” said Dean.

Michigan environmental groups, including the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, applauded the recommendations made to the PFAS Action Response Team, calling them a “solid step towards establishing science-based standards.”

A spokesperson from the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter urged the state to ensure the final rules reflect the workgroup recommendations. The final rules are expected to be adopted by April of 2020.

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