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DEQ to begin testing 1,300 public water supplies for PFAS

Water running from tap
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Water faucet

The Department of Environmental Quality will begin testing 1,300 public water supplies across the state for emerging contaminants known as PFAS.

The family of chemicals, which includes PFOA and PFOS, have been found at high levels in private drinking wells and some bodies of water around the state -- most notably at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and in northern Kent County. 

Susan Leeming, deputy director for the Office of External Relations with the DEQ, says the state will be selective in its testing.

“A potential source in the middle of nowhere with no people around, that’s not as high priority as a site where we have residents and there’s potentially a wellhead protection zone. So we’re trying to do this in a scientific and logical approach,” Leeming said.

Leeming says the biggest priorities are places where products such as firefighting foam containing PFAS have been used. The products containing PFAS aren't the problem, says Leeming, rather it’s how the chemicals are managed.

“And if you use those best management practices right away, I think we can save ourselves a lot of future contamination concerns,” she said.

Leeming says the DEQ will also begin to monitor fish for PFAS more closely.

“Some communities already have advisories for how much fish people can eat from the lakes and rivers, but we’re going to be more intentional about this going forward,” she said.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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