Read the full article by Angela Mulka (Huran Daily Tribune)
“Michigan residents are reminded to avoid foam on waterbodies like lakes, rivers and streams as temperatures warm to reduce exposure to so-called ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS.
Foam can form on any waterbody and sometimes can have harmful chemicals in it like high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances commonly known as PFAS, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in a Thursday press release.
PFAS, called ‘forever chemicals’ because they last so long in the environment, have been associated with serious health conditions, including cancer, reduced antibody responses to vaccines, reduced birth weight and possibly more, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
These man-made chemicals have proven to be a problem for Michigan. PFAS chemicals have been around since the late 1930s when a DuPont scientist created one by accident during a lab experiment. DuPont called it Teflon, which eventually became a household name for its use on nonstick pans.
Besides non-stick cookware, PFAS chemicals are known for being used in water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics and some firefighting foams.
Because of the widespread use of PFAS, these chemicals are now present in 219 sites statewide with more than 11,000 sites where they may have been used, according to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team. The sites include public water systems, military bases, military and civilian airports, industrial plants, dumps and firefighter training sites.
PFAS-containing foam tends to be bright white in color, lightweight and may pile up along shores or blow onto beaches, according to MDHHS.
While natural foam without PFAS is usually off-white and/or brown often has an earthy or fishy scent and tends to pile up in bays, eddies or at river barriers such as dams.
An evaluation by MDHHS suggests young children who come into contact with PFAS-containing foam for a few hours a day may be more at risk of negative health effects.
A recent review by a panel of experts looking at research on PFAS toxicity concluded with a high degree of certainty that PFAS chemicals contribute to thyroid disease, elevated cholesterol, liver damage and kidney and testicular cancer.
If you do come in contact with the foam, MDHHS recommends that you rinse off or bathe as soon as possible. This is especially true if the waterbody is one of the 11,000 sites with suspected PFAS contamination.
Coming into contact with foam without rinsing off or bathing can lead to accidentally swallowing foam or foam residue.”…