Health officials in western Michigan are investigating a potential link between cancer and people who've been exposed to toxic chemicals from tannery waste dump sites.
Kent County Health Department epidemiologist Brian Hartl tells the Grand Rapids Press that the state is helping cross-reference incidences of rare cancer around known and suspected properties where Wolverine World Wide previously dumped hazardous waste.
Those locations include a dump in Belmont, where nearby private drinking water wells are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS. Wolverine used the chemicals at its former tannery in Rockford to waterproof leather for Hush Puppies shoe manufacturing.
State toxicologists say exposure to PFAS compounds have been linked through human studies to kidney and testicular cancer, as well as to ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid problems and cholesterol issues.