News Feature | September 13, 2017

Michigan Town Uncovers PFC Contamination 400 Times EPA-Advised Limits

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

PFC.Reg

Another community appears to be struggling with a drinking water contaminant that continues to plague treatment facilities around the country.

Belmont, MI, is the latest town to uncover perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in its water sources.

“Toxic chemicals from industrial waste dumped in unlined trenches at a long-forgotten landfill have turned up this year in private residential drinking water wells north of Grand Rapids, and public health officials worry the contamination may have been occurring unnoticed for decades,” reported MLive.com.

More shocking than the find was the level of contamination, which "tested nearly 400 times the Environmental Protection Agency advisory level for two PFAS compounds, perfluoroctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA was found at 4,600 parts-per-trillion (ppt), and PFOS at 23,000-ppt in the well. The EPA advisory level for both chemicals is 70-ppt," the report noted.

The contamination has been traced back to Wolverine World Wide, a local shoe company, which dumped sludge from tanning pigskin in a nearby land tract.

“Wells on adjacent property are testing positive for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS, (also called perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs), which Wolverine used at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for shoe manufacturing,” per MLive.

In response, Wolverine World Wide has offered potentially affected residents bottled water and kitchen filters.

“According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, of the 21 wells with verified results so far, 14 show some level of PFAS and 7 are above the federal benchmark at which chronic exposure is considered to become unsafe,” stated MLive. “In one well, officials are aghast at the contamination level and are retesting it to be absolutely certain the result is accurate.”

Sadly, Belmont is not the only place struggling with PFC contamination.

“Some 15 million Americans across 27 states are drinking water that could be contaminated with potentially carcinogenic man-made chemicals without even realizing it,” per The Huffington Post. “Perfluorochemicals … were detected in 162 U.S. drinking water systems in recent Environmental Protection Agency testing.”

To read more about PFC problems visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.

Image credit: " 2012-08-10 025,” Liz Strauss © 2012, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/