Feb 22, 2018

Emerging Contaminant PFAS Found in Lake Huron

The contaminant has been found in concentrations below the EPA health advisory, but officials remain concerned

Emerging contaminant PFAS found in Lake Huron drinking water source

Low levels of emerging contaminants per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been found in a Lake Huron drinking supply that serves seven Michigan counties. The emerging contaminant has been found in the Saginaw-Midland Municipal Water Supply Corp. water system in concentrations ranging from 1.3 ppt to 5.3 ppt, which is below the U.S. EPA health advisory level of 70 ppt, as reported by MLive.

One cause of the PFAS contamination could be former military bases Wurtsmith and Camp Grayling which began using AFFF firefighting foam in the 1970s, and rests just upstream of the Ausable River and Lake Huron. PFAS contamination has been an issue in other parts of Michigan notably in Kent County from waste dumping by Wolverine World Wide.

“When we read the reports in other communities, it wasn’t something we thought we’d have a problem with,” said Kim Mason, Saginaw water director. “I can’t say it’s completely shocking, but it isn’t something I thought would be a concern looking at the source of water we’re using.”

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has recommended contaminated water systems monitor for PFAS on a quarterly basis, however, conventional water treatment technologies do not remove PFAS. Other counties impacted have installed granular activated carbon systems to remove the emerging contaminant.