PFAS Contamination Discovered In The Huron River

The do not eat advisory was issued back in August 2018 with in Oakland and Washtenaw counties. It will continue on the Huron River and a chain of lakes for the foreseeable future as new fish samples from Portage Lake, Baseline lake, Huron River, Kent Lake and Hubbell Pond in Oakland County, and Strawberry, Zukey, Gallagher, Whitewood and Little Whitewood, Long lake, Base showed high levels of PFAS  contamination.

PFAS contamination recently discovered in the Huron River. This family of chemicals, found in thousands of household products from carpeting and waterproofing and stain- resisting fabrics to cookware, has been associated with several health risks when they are in high concentrations.

The main source of this contamination in the Huron river has been determined to be Tribar Manufacturing in Wixom, although additional sites of concern have been identified as the former Kelsey Hayes manufacturing facility and the former COE Cleaners, both in Milford, and discharging PFAS into Pettibone Creek which feeds into the Huron. Both sites have an ongoing clean up managed by the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (MDEQ), although PFAS was not a focus of either of these clean-ups.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning against consuming fish caught in the Huron River from Milford to Pickney, and that includes all river fed lakes from Kent to Portage Lake, They are showing high levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), part of and related to chemical pollutants found in products including fire-retardant foams, fabric and carpet treatments, fabric waterproofing, and metal plating operations.

First brought to attention of MDEQ in 2012, a task force was formed by Govender Rick Snyder, and MDEQ just began testing in March of 2018. Communities in Kalamazoo have been under a “do not drink” advisory.

Since Michigan does not currently have the equipment to test PFAS, homeowners wanting to test their own wells won’t find it easy or cheap. According to Mlive, homeowners should employ professional sample collectors for an EPA lab test.

Updated March 22, 2019:  Do Not eat advisory for fish from Huron River within Oakland counties. MDHHS releases Eat Safe Guides annually in the spring, and emergency advisories as needed. State health officials said touching the fish or water and swimming in the Huron river areas is not considered a health concern as PFAS do not move easily through the skin. An occasional swallow of river or lake water is also not considered a health concern. Fish across the state are tested for PFAS in addition to other chemicals such as mercury, as all fish have some amount of mercury. Michigan’s 2019 new boating and fishing laws to help limit the spread of diseases. For more information on the new boating and fishing laws, visit the Laws section at Michigan.gov/invasives.

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