WEST BRANCH – During a recent study on foam sampling by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), foam collected from Van Etten Lake and Cedar Lake in Iosco and Alcona counties was found to have high levels of per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and residents are urged to avoid the foam on those two water bodies.

In the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020, MPART collected and tested foam from lakes and rivers where PFAS had previously been identified. The purpose of the study is to determine the best way to sample foam and gain more information about how foam forms.

As part of the study, foam was collected from Van Etten Lake and Cedar Lake this spring. Foam from these lakes has previously been tested for PFAS as part of other foam sampling initiatives. The results of the foam samples were shared with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and District Health Department No. 2 (DHD2).

The test results from Van Etten Lake found PFOS, one type of PFAS, at 220,000 parts per trillion (ppt) in foam. Previous PFAS tests done on foam from Van Etten Lake found PFOS ranged from 24 ppt to 148,000 ppt. 

These differences could be due to the lake’s proximity to the former Wurtsmith Air Force base, which is a source of PFAS in the area, according to the study. The avoid foam advisory, already in place for Van Etten Lake, is still in place and is health protective, especially for young children.

Results from the spring test also found PFOS in foam from Cedar Lake at 7,260 ppt. A previous test, done in December 2018, found PFOS at 158 ppt. MDHHS is evaluating the foam data.

At this time, MDHHS and DHD2 recommend avoiding the foam on Cedar Lake since the amount of PFAS in foam can vary. This recommendation is also health protective, especially for young children.

If you come into contact with foam, MDHHS and DHD2 recommend rinsing it off, and bathing or showering after the day’s outdoor activities to avoid swallowing PFAS that may be on the skin. Swallowing foam with PFAS could harm your health, according to DHD2.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) has indicated the specific PFAS in foam from Cedar Lake are not similar to those in foam from Van Etten Lake. The source of PFAS in Cedar Lake is unknown. The groundwater does not flow from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base to Cedar Lake per current groundwater evaluations. EGLE is in the process of identifying potential sources of PFAS to Cedar Lake.

For health questions related to PFAS and foam, call MDHHS at 800-648-6942. 

More information about PFAS and foam can be found at Michigan.gov/PFASResponse on the PFAS Foam webpage. EGLE and DHHS are working to update the PFAS Foam on Lakes and Streams webpage and provide all foam data collected. The final foam study report will be posted to this site.