Fluorochemicals detected in water from Michigan schools

NOW: Fluorochemicals detected in water from Michigan schools

EDWARDSBURG, Mich. – As many as 60 daycares and schools have reported traces of toxic fluorochemicals from private wells, and among them is Eagle Lake Elementary School in Edwardsburg, according to Michigan's PFAS response.

Eagle Lake is the only school in the Michiana that has been affected by the contamination.

These chemicals are part of a large group of synthetic chemicals comprised of various carbon and fluorine atoms.

Edwardsburg Public Schools sent the following letter to parents on August 21 of this year as an update to the previous testing. 

Dear Eagle Lake and Primary Parent:
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), is continuing a statewide initiative to test drinking water from all schools that use well water and community water supplies. The test is looking for a group of manmade chemicals called per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). EGLE is taking this precautionary step of testing these drinking water sources to determine if public health actions are needed.

It is not uncommon to find low levels of PFAS in drinking water supplies, as PFAS can be found in firefighting foams, stain repellants, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, food wrappers, and many other household products. They do not break down in the environment and move easily into water.

The EPA set a Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) level for two PFAS in drinking water, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The LHA level is 70 parts per trillion (ppt, equal to 70 ng/L) for PFOA and PFOS combined, or individually if only one is present. The EPA has not set health advisory levels for other PFAS compounds. The State of Michigan is using 70 ppt for decision making purposes. 

Two Eagle Lake wells were tested by AECOM, EGLE’s contractor. The test results can be found on the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team website, www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse. The results show that of the PFOA and PFOS tested, Well #1, for the second year in a row, had no trace of PFAS. Well #2 had a diminishing amount of 6.19 ppt – down from 7.0 ppt the previous year. The level is well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lifetime health advisory (LHA). 

Edwardsburg Public Schools is committed to providing our students and staff with quality drinking water. We are working closely with EGLE to monitor the quality of the water.

For health related questions, contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) at 1- 800-648-6942 or visit one of the websites below.

For information on PFAS including possible health outcomes, visit these websites:

State of Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) website serving as the main resource for public information on PFAS contamination in Michigan www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) website including health information,
exposure, and links to additional resources www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas
United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) website including basic information, U.S.
EPA actions, and links to informational resources www.epa.gov/pfas

Mr. James Knoll
Superintendent of Schools

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