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In recent months, the State of Michigan has found several places where drinking water and fish are contaminated by a class of chemicals called PFAS, or poly and perfluoroalkyl substances.PFAS is a family of chemicals that can be found in all sorts of products. But what are the lingering effects of PFAS on our health and the environment?

One type of PFAS prevalent in fish in contaminated waters

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

One chemical in the PFAS family is showing up more often and in greater concentrations in fish.

The PFAS chemical is PFOS.

“We do have a pretty heavy data set. We've analyzed over 2,000 (fish) filets across the state for PFAS. And if you look at the average concentration of PFAS, individual PFAS in an average filet PFOS, makes up 82% of the total PFAS in that average filet,” said Brandon Armstrong, an aquatic biologist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy during a presentation on an online PFAS summit.

The agency is testing for 11 chemicals and PFOS was found in 92% of the samples.

“Not only does PFOS make up the largest percentage of total PFAS in those fish, we're also seeing at the highest concentrations in those fish,” Armstrong said.

The highest concentration was 10,000 parts-per-billion in a fish caught near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda.

The average concentration of PFOS in fish was 80 parts-per-billion.

300 parts-per-billion triggers the “Do Not Eat” advisory.

The fish were caught at 125 targested sites around the state where PFAS had been found in water samples.

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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