EAST TAWAS – Recent testing at the Huron Shore Regional Utility Authority (HSRUA) shows non-detect levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds.

HSRUA, as reported, pipes water from Lake Huron into homes and businesses of municipal water customers in Iosco County.

Community members have been speaking out at meetings on the PFAS contamination leaching from the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, expressing concerns that the municipal water system had not been tested for PFAS in two years.

Samples were taken on Nov. 15, though, and all PFAS compounds analyzed at HSRUA were non-detect.

“In January, the HSRUA board will discuss if there is a need for another round of testing to double check the results,” advised HSRUA Board Member and Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed.

The report for both influent and effluent water sample analytical results – for which more than 20 PFAS compounds were tested – was generated using the Vista Laboratory PFAS isotope dilution analysis method, and show all results as non-detect.

The report for the effluent water sample analytical results, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) method 537, which checked for 14 PFAS compounds, was also non-detect.

According to Catherine Garnham of Fleis & VandenBrink Operations, which manages HSRUA, the sampling was conducted by AECOM, on behalf of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).

“Both the raw water (influent) and treated tap water (effluent) were sampled,” she stated.

“Please note that the laboratory that was utilized for this analysis (Vista) is different from the one used by MDEQ previously (Test America). Also, there have been improvements in sample collection and handling methodology since the initial samples were collected in 2016,” Garnham advised.

According to Lois Graham of the MDEQ Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) has undertaken a proactive effort to investigate sources and locations of PFAS contamination in the state, to protect the drinking water and to inform the public about PFAS.

Graham said one vital piece of this effort is the ongoing collaboration between MDEQ and water supply partners, which has allowed them to test all community water supplies and schools which are classified as non-transient non-community water supplies for PFAS contamination.

“Once complete, this study will be an invaluable tool in determining the extent of PFAS in Michigan’s drinking water, and empowering the MPART in the pursuit of their mission,” Graham stated in an e-mail to HSRUA representatives.

She shared the laboratory results and noted that the analyses of the samples reported less than 10 parts per trillion (ppt) for the PFAS compounds perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

“Currently, there is no regulatory drinking water standard for any of the PFAS chemicals,” Graham stated.

However, she pointed out that in May 2016, the USEPA established a non-regulatory Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) for PFOA and PFOS, that being 70 ppt combined, or individually if one of them is present.

“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, as well as the MDEQ, have used this LHA of 70 ppt to inform decisions on actions that should be taken or are recommended to reduce exposure and prevent increased risk to public health from these PFAS contaminants,” Graham stated.

“The USEPA has not set health advisory levels for the other PFAS compounds because not enough is known about them,” she added.

“The concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in these samples are well below the USEPA LHA of 70 ppt and are not expected to result in adverse health effects as long as the concentrations are shown to remain below the LHA over time,” Graham said of the HSRUA results.

For more information on PFAS, she recommends visiting the MPART website at www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse, the USEPA website at www.epa.gov/pfas, or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) at www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas.

The full results of the latest PFAS testing at HSRUA can be found at www.hsrua.org.

As previously reported, PFAS has been present in such items as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, stain-resistant carpet treatments, water-resistant clothing, food packaging materials, cleaning products, cosmetics and paints/varnishes/sealants.

According to the ATSDR, some studies in people have shown that certain PFAS may affect the growth, learning and behavior of infants and older children; lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant; interfere with the body’s natural hormones; increase cholesterol levels; affect the immune system; and increase the risk of cancer.