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Some environmentalists think the PFAS action level should be much lower

State Representative Winnie Brinks speaking at a Michigan League of Conservation Voters press conference in Rockford
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
State Representative Winnie Brinks speaking at a Michigan League of Conservation Voters press conference in Rockford

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters wants a much lower enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS compounds.

PFAS compounds are being found at high levels in private wells and municipal water systems across the state.

The chemicals are commonly used to manufacture plastics, paper and leather and have been linked to testicular, ovarian and kidney cancer.

Lisa Wozniak, the Executive Director of the MLCV, says the current advisory level of 70 parts per trillion isn’t safe for children.

“Seventy is far too high based on the studies that are out there, including the Harvard study that says, frankly, a drinking standard should be no higher than one part per trillion,” Wozniak said.

State Representative Winnie Brinks of Grand Rapids introduced a bill that would set the drinking water standard for PFAS compounds to five parts-per-trillion back in December 2017. But action on the bill remains stagnant.

Brinks agrees that the health advisory of 70 parts per trillion is inadequate.

“So there actually is no legal requirement to reduce the amount of that harmful chemical in drinking water at this time,” Brinks said.

Brinks says she expects her bill will get more support in the legislature when it comes back from recess next month.

"I ask that people on both sides of the aisle do what we were elected to do and pass legislation that will protect our constituents," she said. 

An EPA report released earlier this year found that anything above 12 parts per trillion may be unsafe.

A Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson says an independent science panel is reviewing that report before changing the state’s health advisory for PFAS. The DEQ says the panel should make suggestions sometime late this year.

Copyright 2021 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Bryce Huffman is Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter. Huffman has been serving as a reporter for Michigan Radio since Fall 2016. He has covered a variety of Michigan stories, including immigrants facing deportation, the Detroit-area doctor involved in the female genital mutilation case, and residents concerned about a massive sinkhole in Macomb County. A Detroit native, Huffman graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Journalism. He joined Michigan Radio as a newsroom intern in May 2016.