Read the full article by Paula Gardner (MLive)

“If 2018 was the year of elevating concerns about PFAS contaminating drinking water, then this year already marks a turning point to the conversation.

The chemicals have been found in 43 states and officials have identified where at least 19 million people drink water containing them. Requests to the military for mitigation abound; some cleanups are underway. And many states – including MIchigan – are looking at legislation and new regulation to increase protections for residents.

But the message heading to a Congressional subcommittee on May 15 takes it further: PFAS remains in use in the US, and we know little about many of them, witnesses on May 15 are telling the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Climate Change.

And, they said, increasing scrutiny on the per- and polyfluorinated compounds before they reach drinking water needs to be part of the national agenda.

‘The best way to address these contaminants is at their source,’ said Brian Steglitz, manager of water treatment services for the city of Ann Arbor, in his written statement.

Steglitz makes that statement after PFAS was found in the city’s drinking water in 2014, as officials learned from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016. By 2018, the city had made at least a $1 million investment in additional filtering for the raw water coming into the city’s treatment plant – 85 percent of which comes from the nearby Huron River…

That source turned out to be an industrial facility several miles upstream. Tribar Manufacturing had used the chemicals years ago in its metal plating, and they were found discharging into the river from a municipal wastewater plant. By fall 2018, 1,000 miles of the Huron River watershed had been affected and PFOS levels continue to be higher that the state limit of 11-ppt. The company, meanwhile, added filtration on its end to limit new contamination…

‘While we have come up with a solution to ensure the city’s drinking water is safe and public health is protected, removing these chemicals at the end of the pipe is not the most cost effective approach,’ he said.

He continued: ‘The EPA (under the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976) to require comprehensive risk assessment for new chemicals before they are introduced into circulation.

‘For those chemicals that are already in circulation and being actively used by industry, more effective controls are needed to ensure these chemicals are not allowed to enter our watersheds, as well as legislation that would require the polluter to cover the costs of abatement.’ …

Adverse health effects from PFOA and PFOS are documented, speakers said. That warrants moves by Congress and federal agencies, said Erik D. Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

He called from immediate action, including:

  • Stop approving new PFAS and new uses of existing PFAS.
  • Phase out manufacture of existing PFAS and products using them, such as firefighting foams, food contact substances, clothing, cookware.
  • List all PFAS as hazardous substances under for Superfund and military cleanup purposes.
  • Require PFAS polluters to pay for cleanup and water treatment… “