Read the full article by William Perkins (Traverse City Record Eagle)
“TRAVERSE CITY — New standards from the EPA could mean more than a hundred more water sources in Michigan could have unsafe levels of PFAS.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released new recommendations for two of the most common forms of PFAS, essentially declaring that no levels were safe for human consumption. But, at this time, Michigan’s regulators haven’t committed to changing their drinking water standards to match the new recommendations.
A statement from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy this month said the agency ‘welcome(d) the new findings and look(ed) forward to reviewing the new EPA health advisory levels to help inform our evaluation of Michigan’s current and future standards.’
Based on public water supply testing data for Michigan, that would mean approximately 140 locations statewide have had, or currently have, unsafe levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyls in their systems. Most of those are not currently connected to any of the known groundwater PFAS sources on Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s current list of 220 PFAS contamination sites.
Those sites are determined based on the amount of PFAS in the groundwater, not in municipal water supplies, so drinking water test results wouldn’t directly contribute to a site being added to the list anyway. But, the presence of PFAS in drinking water is often a first indicator that there is a groundwater contamination source somewhere up stream. If that upstream source exceeds groundwater cleanup criteria, then it would become an official PFAS site.
Prior to the EPA’s report this month, Michigan’s standards for PFAS drinking water contamination were stricter than federal guidelines. The two forms of the compound at the center of the EPA report are known as PFOS and PFOA. In 2020, Michigan regulators adopted a 16 parts per trillion limit for PFOS and 8 parts per trillion limit for PFOA. If levels reached that threshold or higher, local and state officials would be required to take action.
The EPA, on the other hand, maintained a 70 parts per trillion recommended limit until the new report was released. Now, they’re saying any levels are potentially unsafe.
‘The updated advisory levels, which are based on new science and consider lifetime exposure, indicate that some negative health effects may occur with concentrations of PFOA or PFOS in water that are near zero and below (the) EPA’s ability to detect at this time,’ agency officials said in a release.
Those findings, however, are just advisory, and don’t have any immediate impact on the state’s regulations—which in 2020 were touted as “some of the nation’s most comprehensive regulations limiting PFAS contamination in drinking water.”
‘One of the key issues that will need to be addressed is the fact the new advisory levels are so low that they can’t be measured by current laboratory methods,’ said Scott Dean, spokesman for EGLE in a response to questions about what would happen if the agency were to adopt EPA’s new standards.”…