Read the full article by William T. Perkins (News-Review)
“PELLSTON — State and regional officials are working with homeowners near Pellston Regional Airport to determine the scope of perfluoroalkyl contamination in the area.
Officials from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy had boots on the ground Monday after reports surfaced last week showing elevated levels of the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in one private well in Pellston. The site is the first example of a water source in Emmet County showing PFAS readings high enough to reach “actionable” levels set by state criteria and federal guidelines.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan announced the finding in a news release issued Friday.
Scott Kendzierski, the department’s director of environmental health, said in a phone interview Monday that officials now are going door-to-door in the area asking residents to sign access agreements, which will allow the state to draw samples from their wells.
Kendzierski said the elevated PFAS levels were detected in a private well in Pellston after the owners chose to have their water tested for the substance. They provided their results last week to the health department, which in turn contacted state agencies to confirm the results. The U.S. Environmental Protection agency sets Lifetime Health Advisory levels for PFOA and PFOS — the two most common forms of PFAS — at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). Pending state regulations would place those limits even lower, as well as set limits for other types of PFAS.
Scott Dean, spokesman for EGLE, said results showed 13 ppt of PFOA, 124 ppt of PFOS, and 226 ppt for another kind of PFAS, PFHxS.
It’s the first site in Emmet County known so far to have PFAS levels in that range.
A town hall meeting on the issue will take place at the Pellston High School auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 12. An open house and time for questions will occur from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., with the presentation planned for 6-7:15 p.m., and opportunities for additional questions afterward.
Since being developed in the 1940s, PFAS have been used in manufacturing, non-stick or stain-repellant consumer products and firefighting foam. Airports are one setting where PFAS pose a potential cause for concern because firefighting foam is often used on the premises. No clear evidence has been found that would link the contamination in Pellston to the airport, but Kendzierski said state agencies will be conducting extended land use investigations to help provide clarity on that front.
Michigan currently has 72 locations designated as “PFAS sites,” where PFAS testing has shown levels above 70 ppt. Pellston has not been designated as such yet, but it could be depending on the results of investigations.
For now, though, the priority is to determine if there is an immediate risk to area residents.
‘The sampling is really to determine the scope and extent of the contamination and protect public health,’ Kendzierski said.
The state, through a program known as the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), spent the entirety of 2018 testing all public water sources in the state. Those results showed minimal or null concentrations of PFAS in Emmet County, but the effort left out anyone on private wells, which includes much of the northern part of the county…”