PFAS: What’s On Tap

Prism is staying current with new information as it emerges regarding PFAS contamination. On March 26, Governor Gretchen Whitmer directed the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to establish PFAS drinking water protection standards by the end of 2019.

What are PFAS and what is the importance? Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a very large group of man-made chemicals that have been used since as early as the 1940s in firefighting, industrial processes, and manufacturing of clothing, cookware, and other materials to resist water, grease, or stains. Since the chemicals were originally developed to be durable in numerous products, they are extremely persistent once they reach the environment and bio-accumulate in animals and humans. Due to their widespread use, most people have already been exposed to PFAS in one form or another (think waterproofing sprays, fast food wrappers, and non-stick cookware!). Studies have linked consistent exposure to PFAS in food and drinking water to adverse health effects.

How will Prism evaluate a site for PFAS contamination? The USEPA has set a strict health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion for PFAS and laboratories across the country are ready to analyze samples for PFAS. Michigan is also at the forefront of recognizing the significance of this health issue and establishing enforceable drinking water protection sampling procedures and criteria. Prism will continue to evaluate applicable sites for PFAS contamination as the state-specific standards are finalized.