Jun 18, 2018

Grand Rapids, Mich., Airport Finds PFAS Groundwater Contamination

While the initial water quality results are below the federal advisory level, the airport has pledged to test surrounding residential well water supplies for the emerging contaminant

PFAS groundwater contamination found at Michigan airport
PFAS groundwater contamination found at Michigan airport

On June 15, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., released a report showing elevated levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the soil and groundwater surrounding the site where firefighting foam was used. While the airport reports levels of the emerging contaminant below the federal advisory level, the airport plans to test water quality in surrounding residential wells, as reported by U.S. News.

The investigation began after homeowners in the surrounding area began paying for private PFAS drinking water testing earlier this spring amid concerns over the airport’s previous use of AFFF firefighting foam. While the airport stopped using the foam more than 20 years ago, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that airports keep the foam on hand for emergencies, according to MLive

The U.S. EPA non-enforceable health advisory level for PFAS is 70 ppt in drinking water, and the airport found a combined PFOS and PFOA level of 54 ppt. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has praised the airport’s decision to expand groundwater testing to the surrounding residential properties. Airport CEO James Gill has expressed willingness to help the community if need be. 

“To us, it is worth taking the extra steps on behalf of the community,” Gill said.