New PFAS report issued as Snyder looks for cleanup funding

    A new scientific report from a state task force issued nearly 20 recommendations for Michigan to attempt to reign in harmful chemicals known as PFAS.

    Conducted by Gov. Rick Snyder’s PFAS Science Advisory Panel, the report first suggests that the state identify where PFAS is contaminating drinking water supplies and implement a strategy to remediate and minimize the risks to human health that PFAS can cause.

    Rick Snyder | Susan J. Demas

    Chief among those risks, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are behavioral and growth effects on children, lowering a woman’s ability to get pregnant and increased cholesterol levels.

    Additionally, the PFAS panel suggests more research on how the chemicals impact both crops and ground drinking water, as well a “biomonitoring case study” with volunteers in the areas where the chemicals have been detected “to determine if their body burdens exceed those reported” in a national survey.

    PFAS chemicals have popped up at dozens of sites around the state over the last year. The chemicals are associated with industrial chemicals once used in multiple industries.

    “As governor of the State of Michigan, I have committed to a proactive approach to identifying and defining the extent … of PFAS contamination in our state,” Snyder said in a letter accompanying the report. “When that contamination has been discovered, the state and local partners act immediately to protect public health.”

    Nonetheless, environmentalists have previously told the Advance that Snyder’s initial ask of $43 million for PFAS cleanup constitutes a “good start.”

    “Nobody knows how much it will take,” said Bob Delaney, a geologist with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) who in 2012 tried to warn then-department chief Dan Wyant that PFAS constituted a major health and environment problem in Michigan.

    “We’re stressed for personnel right now. There’s just a lot coming at us, and even though they’re hiring new people, there’s just [only] so much any of us can do,” Delaney said. “We’re in kind of a whole new world now.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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