“GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — State and county health officials are planning widespread blood testing in Wolverine Worldwide’s PFAS zone to learn more about possible health impacts, they said Tuesday.
They expect the investigation will provide more details than the cancer study they released at a press conference at the Kent County Health Department.
That study found significantly higher numbers than expected of prostate cancer in the area in northern Kent County, though it couldn’t determine if PFAS was the reason.
It also found no significant differences in other kinds of cancers.
‘I’ve been very concerned,’ Kent County Health Officer Adam London said. ‘I think a lot of people in our community have been very concerned and had a fear that we were going to see, when we looked at the data, that we were going to see some extraordinary difference in the rate of cancer in this area. I’m encouraged and I’m thankful that overall, we’re not seeing that.’
The newly released data represents cancer cases over a 15-year period for two Kent County zip codes in the PFAS zone in Plainfield and Algoma townships.
London cautioned the findings are complex and not complete.
‘It’s not the end, it’s not the conclusion, it’s merely one point,’ he said.
Health officials say the numbers don’t take into consideration other variables that could lead to cancer…
Sandy Wynn-Stelt, who lives across from Wolverine Worldwide’s old House Street dump, fears the report could downplay the PFAS crisis.
‘I think it’s important not to throw out studies that are incomplete because people will take that as fact and then dismiss or not take this seriously,’ she said Tuesday.
A test paid for by her attorney found 5 million parts per trillion of PFAS in her blood, perhaps the highest ever reported.
Her husband died of liver cancer. She has had thyroid problems.
She said she’d be willing to give a blood sample to county health officials, if her lawyer approves…
The PFAS contamination in northern Kent County now covers an area that’s five miles long and six miles wide, impacting 800 wells in Plainfield and Algoma townships.
It started with the House Street dump in Belmont, where Wolverine Worldwide dumped PFAS-tainted sludge for decades until 1970. It since has been discovered at farm fields where the shoemaker also dumped sludge.
Health officials said they hope to test the blood of as many as 800 people in the area starting this fall. They hope to test as many as possible with wells above the EPA limit for PFAS, and randomly sample people with lower PFAS levels.
They’ll also question them about their health — not just cancer, but also other illnesses.
They hope to complete the $1 million study sometime next year.”
Read the full article by Ken Kolker