DEQ monitoring Mid-Michigan PFAS sites

Posted at 8:34 AM, Aug 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-01 08:34:56-04

There's a state of emergency on Michigan’s west side where the chemical PFAS has tainted a Kalamazoo county water supply and shut down wells. The same chemical was found in Lansing groundwater a couple years ago.

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is keeping tabs on the site and so are neighbors.

The situation in Mid-Michigan isn't as extreme as Kalamazoo County is facing right now.

To the naked eye, you see the former home of the General Motor’s Metal Center on Lansing’s west side, but what you don't see water underground tainted with a chemical known as PFAS.

“It is challenging to live next door to a site like this but we've managed to get by with the precautions that we've taken,” said nearby neighbor Joe Bell.

Bell also lives next to an abandoned lot known as Adam's Plating were PFAS has been found. The building burned down in 2010.

“Some of our concerns in our neighborhood is benzene, and tulane and more of a heavy metal type property,” said Bell. “They're left over from manufacturing and it’s been in this area for years.”

PFAS is made up of hundreds of different chemicals used in Scotchguard, chrome plating, and even in foam to fight gasoline fires.

Experts say there are no clear symptoms but cholesterol or thyroid issues seem to be common.

“If you’re having other medical issues talk to your doctor,” said James Clift, Policy Director at the Michigan Environmental Council. “Could a PFAS exposure be related to any of these.”

With 120 deepwater wells, the Lansing Board of Water and Light assures its quality is top notch. Water is tested every two hours and 15 minutes.

“We continually monitor water quality,” said General Manager Dick Peffley. “When we see a chemical or contaminant that rises to the level then we specifically test for that and we've tested for PFAS as early as 2015 and it's always been non-detect.”

It’s that testing which is giving residents a peace of mind.

“In the great State of Michigan water is king,” said Bell. “We need to do it as stewards to make sure our kids have clean water.”

It's a good idea to make sure your water is tested regularly, especially if you're drinking water from a private well.

Experts expect the PFAS problem to get worse in Michigan, even though some fire departments no longer use it. That's because it takes a while for the chemical to filter down into the water supply.

Click here to view other locations being monitored for PFAS.