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Map shows Michigan ahead of the curve in PFAS testing


Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, are used in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of household and consumer products. They’re linked to a variety of health problems, including cancer.

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit that provides research and education on topics relating to health and the environment. A recent map shows Michigan as having the most reported PFAS contamination sites in the country, with 192 sites in the state alone. 

“That’s due to the state conducting a very, very comprehensive testing program to determine where the contamination is, that we haven’t seen in any other state," said Bill Walker, Editor in Chief of the Environmental Working Group’s website.

Every public water system has been tested, according to Scott Dean from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. While 98 percent of those systems showed zero detections of PFAS, there are still private wells that have not yet been tested. Dean says, the MDEQ is working on a state standard for drinking water.

“Those levels will be enforceable coming out at the end of the year,” Dean said.

As individuals look at this map to see where PFAS has been detected, Walker encourages residents to check with their local water agency to see if the water has been filtered since the time of the detection. 

“This is intended to show how widespread the problem is, not necessarily how severe it is in each individual spot,” Walker said. 

Kayla Sosa, WGVU News.

Kayla Sosa is a general news reporter for WGVU Public Radio.