Michigan declares emergency over city’s water contamination

Michigan declares emergency over city’s water contamination
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Michigan officials have declared a state of emergency after a city’s drinking water supply was found to be tainted with a harmful nonstick chemical.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) made the declaration Sunday, days after the discovery of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water supply for Parchment and Cooper Township, near Kalamazoo.

“This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township,” Calley said in a statement. He is acting as governor while Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is out of state.

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“This helps make sure that every resource that is possible is on the table and that we can work as expeditiously together as we possibly can,” Calley told radio host Paul W. Smith of WJR. That includes water deliveries and other health assistance while the city and county work to switch their water supply.

Test results released last week as part of a statewide effort to test water for PFAS found 1,587 parts per trillion of the substances in Parchment’s water, according to MLive. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an advisory health standard of a maximum of 70 parts per trillion, though recent research by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry found health problems at single-digit levels.

PFAS has been linked to health problems like cancer and liver damage. It has been used for decades to manufacture nonstick, stain-resistant, fire-retardant and other types of products.

The EPA and state regulators have only recently begun grappling with PFAS. The EPA has promised an aggressive effort related to the substances, including examining whether to regulate their presence in drinking water on the federal level.

Parchment is just the latest area to have a PFAS problem. Communities in New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and elsewhere have in recent years found high PFAS levels in water sources.