State affirms PFAS warning on eating deer in Oscoda

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

State health department officials confirmed Wednesday that residents should not eat deer hunted within five miles of Clark's Marsh in Oscoda Township because of PFAS findings in the area.

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission has approved new deer hunting regulations aimed at stopping the spread of a deadly disease among deer.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released its final report on the testing of deer for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance, following an initial review in October that found PFAS in a deer in Clark's Marsh.

The state Department of Natural Resources took samples from 128 deer from around Michigan to test for PFAS exposure, officials said, and only one of those deer had elevated levels.

State officials say the advisory covers the five-mile radius around the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda and "covers what the DNR has estimated to be the expected travel range of deer living in or near the marsh," according to a news release.

Officials said they do not know how PFAS could accumulate in deer but are conducting more analysis to figure out why one deer had elevated levels. Testing on other wildlife will be conducted as well.

The advisory also warns against the kidneys or liver from deer in the area because chemicals such as PFAS can build up in their organs.

Health officials say continued exposure to certain PFAS chemicals in drinking water could harm human health. Studies link exposure to developmental effects on fetuses, cancer, and liver and immunity function, among other issues.

PFAS compounds, which build up in the environment and the body, have been used for decades in manufacturing to make carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, packaging for food and other products resistant to water, grease or stains.

Melissa Nann Burke contributed.

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