Read the full article by Malachi Barrett

“COOPER TOWNSHIP, MI — Speaking with township residents impacted by PFAS contamination, officials from state and local health departments downplayed risks associated with exposure to the substances in drinking water at levels near a federal health advisory.

Representatives from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Environmental Quality and Kalamazoo County painted a blurry picture of what is known about the effect of PFAS on human health at a Monday, Sept. 10, Cooper Township board meeting.

Officials said human health studies are needed to provide more information about the toxic compounds.

An EPA health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA, two of many per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in drinking water could be 7 to 10 times too high, according to a draft report from the toxicological arm of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report has stoked conversation about whether Michigan’s health standard, which matches the EPA advisory, should be lowered.

Kory Groetsch, director of environmental health with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, told a packed Cooper Township board room that the minimum risk levels recommended in the recent CDC/ATSDR report are ‘largely noise.’

‘You can come up with three different scientists all doing their best efforts and they come up with different numbers … and (for) none of it have we evidence that in humans or animals it causes harm,’ Groetsch said. ‘That’s the numbers we base our decisions off of — numbers that have never shown to cause harm.

‘That’s why they want to do these health studies to find out and advance the research, can people really be harmed by 1,400 ppt or 2,000 ppt in municipal drinking water?’

EPA’s health advisories are based on the best available peer-reviewed studies of the effects of PFOA and PFOS on laboratory animals. They were also informed by epidemiological studies of human populationsexposed to PFAS.

Exposure to PFOS and PFOA has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, kidney disease, thyroid conditions, developmental effects to fetuses and infants, and auto-immune disorders….

Groetsch said people drinking water contaminated with PFAS between 59 ppt and 83 ppt have a ‘low to minimal risk’ of experiencing negative health effects. He said a person would have to drink 2-3 liters of water contaminated with more than 70 ppt of PFAS each day for years before harm was expected to occur.

Parchment resident Tammy Cooper worries about exposing her 3-year-old daughter to PFAS through breastfeeding. She criticized officials for making it sound as though residents known to be exposed to PFAS are safe before knowing for sure.

‘That’s garbage,’ she said. ‘Be honest with people. If you don’t know, you don’t know, but don’t tell people they’re fine.’ “