Providing PFAS risk assessment and education

PFAS has been detected at 34 Michigan sites in 17 counties (as of July 2018), and in some cases high levels of PFAS has seeped into drinking water.

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Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoralkyl substances, known as PFAS, are a group of chemicals used by plating, tanneries and clothing manufacturers where waterproofing or a protective film is needed. PFAS is found in food packaging, cleaning products, firefighting foam and other goods and materials and has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an emerging contaminant. 

PFAS has been detected at 34 Michigan sites in 17 counties (as of July 2018), and in some cases high levels of PFAS has seeped into drinking water. In Oscoda, PFAS fire suppressants at the closed Wurthsmith Air Force Base have leached into drinking water and toxic foam has washed up on area beaches. 

There are still many unknowns in relation to PFAS including if and how these chemicals affect crops and animals when in the water. Michigan State University Extension formed a team of faculty and Extension educators to help address some of the PFAS issues. The team has met several times to discuss its role with the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) formed in 2017 by Gov. Rick Snyder. 

  • Both MPART and MSU Extension plan to develop and provide risk assessments and communications to people in the state about PFAS.
  • The Extension team is also helping to identify MSU researchers working with PFAS or similar contaminants to help with community education and research.

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