Peters plans hearing on PFAS contamination

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters is introducing a bipartisan bill to force the U.S. Commerce Department to initiate trade enforcement actions on behalf of smaller industries in an effort to combat dumping of products at below-market prices by foreign makers.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters said Thursday that a Senate subcommittee will hold a hearing on PFAS contamination in the wake of problems with the chemicals in drinking water around Michigan.

Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said in a news release that the subcommittee on federal spending oversight and emergency management will holding a Sept. 26 hearing on the federal government's role in the "Toxic PFAS Chemical Crisis."

Last month, local and state authorities warned residents in two Kalamazoo County communities to stop drinking or cooking with water following findings of high amounts of industrial chemicals such as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

The chemicals have been detected in Michigan lakes and drinking water in West Michigan’s Belmont area and around military installations including Wurtsmith Air Force Base and Sawyer Air Force Base. They have been used in firefighting foams, food packaged in the materials, and in commercial household products or manufacturing facilities.

“Michiganders across the state have been unknowingly and involuntarily exposed to harmful PFAS chemicals, and they deserve a clear picture of both the full extent and long-term effects of the contamination,” said Senator Peters, a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management.

“I am pleased that this hearing will help shed light on the PFAS problem, determine the necessary steps to clean up the contamination and get some answers for the Michigan families, service members and veterans, who were exposed to toxic PFAS chemicals.”

PFAS are a group of chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Peters' office indicated that it is working to ensure representatives from the Defense Department, EPA and affected Michigan communities can speak at the hearing.

Health researchers say long-term exposure to the chemicals in drinking water could harm human health, with links to issues such as thyroid, kidney, heart and reproductive problems.