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Grand Valley State professor documenting stories of people 'Living with PFAS'


Allendale Township, Mich. – A Grand Valley State University writing professor is recording the stories of people affected by chemicals turning up in private wells, sludge from wastewater treatment plants and even food.

Dani DeVasto’s project, “Living with PFAS” will be archived and preserved digitally in the western Michigan school’s special collections and archives, WOOD-TV reported.

Dani DeVasto

“I think one of the things that’s been missing, one of the most powerful pieces, are the stories of the individuals who are being impacted by PFAS,” DeVasto said. “So I would like to help tell those stories, amplify those voices, and use those stories to help add to the scientific facts that we’re collecting and reporting.”

PFAS is shorthand for a class of chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They have been detected at levels requiring remediation at more than 70 sites across Michigan. The compounds have been dubbed “forever chemicals” because they take thousands of years to degrade, and because some accumulate in people’s bodies.

The chemicals have been used for decades in products ranging from nonstick cookware to stain-resistant clothing and food containers, as well as foam used to extinguish jet-fuel fires.

Federal studies have found links between high blood levels of older kinds of PFAS and a range of health problems.

“It’s an emerging crisis here in West Michigan and it’s something that a number of people that I know in the community have been impacted by,” DeVasto said.

Grand Valley State is in Allendale Township, west of Grand Rapids.