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Parchment residents get free bottled water, but still have questions about PFAS

Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Volunteers pass out cases of bottled water at Parchment High School.

Residents have been lining up to get cases of free bottled water in a Kalamazoo County community.

The state Department of Environmental Quality discovered high levels of contaminants known as PFAS in Parchment city water late last week. The problem also affects some residents in Cooper Township on the same water supply.

Lots of people living in the area have little to no information about these chemicals aside from what they’ve heard on the evening news.

“My concern is what was in the water and how did it get there? And did they just now find it or has it been there?" said Randy Johnson, who was picking up bottled water for the company he works for in Parchment.

The compounds -- in a family of chemicals known as PFAS -- are commonly used in firefighting foam, nonstick cookware, and other products. High levels of some PFAS compounds have been linked to thyroid and kidney disease.

The state is supplying bottled water to residents affected by PFAS contamination while it looks for a long-term solution.

Jeff Nagel, who lives in Cooper Township, is on a private well, but is getting bottled water as a precaution. He says he has a lot of questions for state and county officials.

“First on my list would be, hey, if they could test my well, see if it is bad or not. If not then I could drink it and I wouldn't have to keep coming here to get water every time,” Nagel said.

Nagel says his daughter is currently struggling with thyroid issues.

“After hearing about the water, it just makes you think could [PFAS] have something to do with my daughter. It’s just hard to say for sure,” he said.

The state will hold a public meeting at Haven Reform Church in Kalamazoo Tuesday to discuss the contamination.

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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