Records: 2 pollutants found in 2 Mich. water supplies
Plainfield Township — Pollutants that have been linked to health problems including cancer and childhood developmental issues have been found in public drinking water supplies for two Michigan communities, according to local and federal records.
Utilities serving Kent County’s Plainfield Township, near Grand Rapids, and the city of Ann Arbor reported perfluorooctane sulfonate, known as PFOS, and perfluorooctanoic acid, known as PFOA, in raw and treated water, MLive.com reported.
So far, samples haven’t exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory guidelines for the chemicals. Officials are monitoring the water. Plainfield Township serves about 40,000 customers and Ann Arbor serves about 120,000 customers.
“Yes, people are being exposed, but they are exposed to less than the lifetime health advisory number,” said Christina Bush, a toxicologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services who is involved in an investigation into the Plainfield Township contamination. “The chemicals are there, but they are less than what we’d be concerned about as far as any potential harm.”
The source of the chemicals hasn’t been confirmed, but a closed landfill is suspected as the source in Plainfield Township and they’ve been traced to the township’s backup well field at Versluis Park. In Ann Arbor, they’re coming from the Barton Pond impoundment on the Huron River.
“It’s very, very low,” Brian Steglitz, Ann Arbor water plant manager, said of PFOA.
The chemicals were used in firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, carpeting and furniture. They’ve been linked to cancer, liver damage and thyroid disease.
Ann Arbor hasn’t found the chemicals every time it looked. To Steglitz, that suggests the source is “not something that’s there all the time as background.”
After samples from 2013 came back, the Plainfield Township stopped drawing water from the backup well field that has been used during peak demand times. Most of the water the township pumps comes from two other well fields.
“At no point have we ever exceeded any EPA limits for treated water going out in our system,” said Rick Solle, Plainfield Township public services director.