“GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The state is reimbursing the Kent County Health Department half a million dollars for an estimated 8,000 hours worked on the county’s ever-growing water contamination problem.
The estimated 8,000 hours worked by 14 health department employees from Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30 is almost equivalent to four employees devoted full-time, year-round to the issue of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS.
Department officials extrapolated previous hours worked, but also factored the number of hours for some employees would decrease or increase as the situation warranted, to come up with the estimation.
The bulk of the $520,450 reimbursement from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services covers hours worked, according to the request.
‘When people already have a full plate and we throw PFAS on top of it, it stretches pretty thin,’ said Kent County Administrative Health Officer Adam London.
‘We’ve got the capacity to respond to new and emerging issues for a period of time, but it became increasingly evident that our presence with things like vapor intrusion and PFAS … they’re going to be present for a long time.’
Relief came earlier this year, on March 22, when county officials gave the department the go-ahead to hire a full-time epidemiologistdevoted to emerging environmental health issues, such as PFAS contamination, vapor intrusion and lead poisoning…
MDHHS spokesperson Angela Minicuci said its the first reimbursement of hours worked the state department has granted to a county health department working on PFAS issues.
Kent County is unique from other counties with PFAS issues, Minicuci said, because there are ‘multiple sites and multiple responsible parties,’ which requires ‘a lot of outreach and education’ from the health department.”
Read the full article by Michael Kransz