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East Lansing water supply passes PFAS inspection

August 30, 2018
<p>Civil engineering junior Maria Milan drinks from a water fountain on October 14, 2017 at Williams Hall. The shut down wells did not provide water directly to taps on campus.</p>

Civil engineering junior Maria Milan drinks from a water fountain on October 14, 2017 at Williams Hall. The shut down wells did not provide water directly to taps on campus.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

No detectable levels of toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found in the East Lansing and Meridian Township water supply, according to results of a test administered by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The test comes as part of a statewide push to examine over 1,000 public water systems. For the East Lansing and Meridian Township communities, the water was found to be safe for human consumption.

PFAS are manmade chemicals that can be found in numerous everyday objects, such as pizza boxes or nonstick cookware. They also are prevalent at abandoned industrial sites.

Since their use is widespread, it’s easy for PFAS to end up in drinking water. The chemicals do not break down either in environmental conditions or inside the human body, and as a result, increased exposure and consumption can lead to negative health effects such as cancer or low infant birth weights.

State officials began the push to test water supplies for PFAS after the Environmental Protection Agency named the substances as "emerging contaminants," said Derek Perry, assistant township manager of Meridian Township.

Numerous communities across Michigan have found elevated PFAS levels in their water in recent years. Plainfield Township's supply has been dealing with PFAS pollution from a nearby industrial landfill since at least 2013, and a month-long drinking water advisory was lifted on Monday in Parchment.

"The state of Michigan was the one that really stepped forward and said, ‘you know what, we need to test all of our water supplies to find out how pervasive this PFAS is throughout the state of Michigan,’” Perry said. 

The East Lansing and Meridian Township supply received a “non-detect,” meaning the results were below the MDEQ’s detectable limit of 2 parts per trillion. The Environmental Protection Agency has established a PFAS health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion.

“We take that public health responsibility very seriously and we’re just pleased with the results,” Perry said. 

Detailed test results of East Lansing’s water system and others statewide can be found here.

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