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State officials to continue testing Grayling sites for PFAS


Testing of water sources near Camp Grayling for PFAS contamination will continue this summer.

Last year, the state Department of Health and Human Services sampled more than a thousand residential wells near the Michigan National Guard’s training center.

Now the health department wants to test many of those wells again.

Officials found homes in the area with PFAS levels at or higher than 70 parts per trillion, which is an EPA advisory level for PFAS. The industrial chemicals are toxic and have been linked to health problems like cancer.

Sesha Kallakuri, a MDHHS toxicologist, says they are monitoring more homes with levels that exceed new, tougher state standards.

“We are doing this mainly to be protective of human health,” she says.

MDHHS started re-testing homes in Grayling Township two weeks ago.

The Michigan National Guard and the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will also help with testing water collected from Lake Margrethe, the AuSable River and wells on military sites.

Samatha Nellis, the co-chair of the remediation advisory board, says the community group is pleased with the agencies’ progress, but the group worries some residents have not been briefed on testing plans because of COVID.

“Those other audiences that maybe aren’t comfortable hopping on a zoom call or don’t have internet at home,” she explains. “So how can we reach them better?”

The board has set its next in person meeting for the fall, while state agencies have sent letters to hundreds of homes where well water testing will occur.

Remediation planning could start as early as next year.

More information about the Grayling contamination can be found at the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team website.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.