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Prostate cancer "significantly higher" for residents drinking from private wells tested for PFAS

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A health report released Tuesday indicates a significantly higher than expected rate for prostate cancer in Northern Kent County private drinking wells tested for PFAS.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Kent County Health Department released cancer incident data as it pertains to PFAS found in two Northern Kent County combined zip codes private drinking wells. Think Belmont and Rockford where Wolverine World Wide dumped waste.

The study tested for all cancers broken down into three, five year periods. Prostate cancer was “significantly higher” in each of the segments tested.

“That’s a term we’re using sort of a statistical word and is not meant to be equivalent to overwhelming or greatly or anything like that.”

That’s Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The report also indicates kidney, renal and testicular cancers were also elevated, but not over the same length of time. At her side, Kory Groetsch, MDHHS Director of the Division of Environmental Health explaining the next step is a two year, $1 million dollar exposure assessment. Blood tests will determine how much PFAS is in the bodies of people drinking contaminated water within the two zip codes. Two groups will be tested. Those with well water PFAS readings above 70 parts per trillion and those under.

“We’re targeting 800 and we think that will allow us to both compare between those groups and sort of put them in context to the national levels reported out by the CDC that enhance whether the typical person in America, everybody has a little bit of PFAS in their blood, we know that. We can compare to that for PFOS and PFOA. So we’ll be able to do that."

Other sites across the state are also being assessed for cancer rates. Data collected is being collected nationally and assessed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.