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Michigan Takes Step Towards Strictest PFAs Standards In The Nation

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians have been unwittingly exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, with contamination in several cities consistently higher than they ever were in Flint, Michigan.

A Michigan work group Thursday released recommendations for the state to implement the strictest standards in the nation for PFAS chemicals.

PFAs, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals that have been found across the state and are linked to health problems including cancer.

The Michigan PFAs Action Response Team received health-based recommendations from a workgroup for seven PFAs compounds setting health limits as low as six parts per trillion.

The current EPA health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion, although that standard is only for PFOS and PFOA.

Scott Dean is with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“These levels that have been proposed are designed to be health protective not only for adults but also for infants and even the unborn,” Dean said. “These are prenatal values.”

The recommendations will be used as part of a rule making process will include public hearings and comment.

“This will inform that work but obviously EGLE needs to get this other input and also public comment to determine the feasibility and practicality need to be looked at as well,” Dean said.

The recommendations were based on existing research but the workgroup also released a recommendation for long-chain PFAs, about which not much is known.

According to the work group report while there is not enough information for health-based values “these compounds are expected to produce similar health effects.”

“Long chain PFAs tend to stay in the body longer they tend to bioaccumulate longer so when they are found above six parts per trillion,” Dean said. “They (the work group) are suggesting that people take action to try to find the source and reduce the source.”

Michigan environmental groups, including the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, applauded the recommendations made to the PFAs Action Response Team, calling them a “solid step towards establishing science-based standards.”

A spokesperson from the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter urged the state to ensure the final rules reflect the workgroup recommendations.

The final rules are expected to be adopted by April of 2020.

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