Scientific Evidence and Recommendations for Managing PFAS Contamination in Michigan
December 7, 2018 - Author: Scott Bartell, Jennifer Field, Dan Jones, Christopher Lau, Susan Masten, and David Savitz
In November 2017, after finding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in several locations in Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder issued an Executive Directive that established the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). The purpose of MPART is to ensure a comprehensive, cohesive and timely response to the continued mitigation of PFAS across Michigan. Since its inception, MPART has worked to address 34 sites of PFAS groundwater and surface water contamination across the state of Michigan.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) classifies PFAS as an emerging contaminant on the national level. Used for more than 50 years, PFAS are a suite of chemicals used in thousands of applications throughout manufacturing, food, and textile industries. Many PFAS are stable chemicals, and thus break down very slowly in the environment, further they are highly soluble and thus easily move from soil into groundwater or surface water. PFAS have been used in many Class B firefighting foams, food packaging, Teflon pans and cleaning products. They have also been used by industries such as electroplating, tanneries, furniture and clothing manufacturing where waterproofing or protective films are required.
To protect public health and the environment for the people of Michigan, MPART and the Legislature have asked for guidance, based on the most contemporary science available, to address aspects of PFAS, specifically perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) Health Advisory Levels, Adverse Health Outcomes, Remediation and Mitigation, and Environmental Exposure Pathways. Additionally, MPART and the Legislature also requested information on other potentially harmful PFAS other than PFOS and PFOA.
This report, produced by a Science Advisory Panel (Panel) of experts from throughout the United States, provides a general understanding of human health risks associated with PFAS in the environment and evidence-based recommendations to Michigan. The state may choose to use this information, in addition to other regulatory and regional considerations and with any federal guidance, to chart a pathway forward, to protect the health and well-being of the citizens of Michigan. While this document discusses environmental pathways for PFAS contamination, its scope is directed towards human health as a first priority.
The Panel met in East Lansing, Michigan in June 2018 to obtain information from State of Michigan agency staff regarding the status of Michigan PFAS issues and the ongoing state efforts to understand the scope of PFAS as a threat to public health. The Panel worked together through email and conference calls for 6 months to the completion of its work. This report represents the independent work and expert professional judgement from the Panel authors and does not reflect the opinions of their respective employers or the State of Michigan.