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Michigan Expanding PFAS Testing Capabilities

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
New PFAS testing equipment at EGLE laboratory. EGLE staffers now have an instrument dedicated to and available for environmental analyses.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy is expanding its testing capabilities for monitoring a family of so-called forever chemicals called PFAS.

For several years, EGLE’s state laboratory in Lansing has only been able to check drinking water for PFAS contamination.

But with new equipment, the testing in the lab can now expand to include surface water, groundwater, wastewater, and soil.

EGLE spokesperson Scott Dean says the new testing will make it easier for the state to monitor where PFAS are in the state.

“It’s something that we’ve been doing for quite some time, but often we’ve had to rely on certified private laboratories to do the testing since the testing for PFAS is very complicated, very sophisticated testing,” Dean said.

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a collection of chemical man-made compounds that have been widely used in a number of consumer and commercial products.

They’re particularly known for being used in water resistance substances and in firefighting foam to extinguish petroleum-type fires.

Even after decades of their use, they do not break down easily in the environment. The chemicals have been linked to cancer and developmental problems.

Dean said this expansion gives Michigan the opportunity to become a leader in PFAS action response.

“And by having this equipment in-state, it’s gonna allow us to keep up the work we’ve been doing for a number of years now to address PFAS contamination.”

This allows for more testing in-state, should provide faster results, and the ability to test for more chemicals.

The new equipment can test for 30 different analytes of PFAS and reliably report results with low detection limits. The current drinking water method only tests for 18 analytes.

Tests using the new equipment should start in 2022 after proper training and protocols are in place.

McKoy's story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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