Protecting Michigan’s Drinking Water from PFAS – the “Forever Chemicals”: Action You Can Take Now

Public can comment online, via the mail, and at public hearings in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, & Roscommon

Michigan residents have an opportunity throughout January to speak up and defend our families and public drinking water from a group of chemicals known collectively as PFAS, also called “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment and are known to be in the water supply of at least 1.9 million Michiganders.

PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of human-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many others. PFAS build up in our bodies and pose threats to our health, including cancer, thyroid conditions, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive issues.

PFAS have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s, including in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.

Opportunity for Public Comment until January 31, 2020

The state of Michigan is proposing science-based protections (rules that have the force of law) for known, dangerous forms of PFAS chemicals toxic to our health that have been found in Michigan communities’ public drinking water. There are currently no limits on PFAS compounds in public drinking water in Michigan.

Please read the information summarized below regarding public health threats from PFAS, the standards that the state is proposing, and changes that we and our allies suggest that Michigan make to the proposed protections from PFAS. And then make comment via:

  1. E-Mail: EGLE-PFAS-RuleMaking@Michigan.gov
  2. S. mail:

Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division

Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Attention: Suzann Ruch

PO Box 30817

Lansing, Michigan 48909-8311

  1. Public hearings scheduled by the state of Michigan for public comment:
  • Jan. 8, Grand Valley State University, Eberhard Center, Grand Rapids, 5 p.m-8 p.m.
  • Jan. 14, Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building, Towsley Auditorium, Ann Arbor, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
  • Jan. 16, Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center, Roscommon, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

If you are interested in attending a public meeting, you also have the option of filling out this sign-up form developed by our allies at the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, who also have set up a template comment form for you to tailor and send. Feel free to reflect your personal concerns, as well as the scientific rationale, to support why you believe the state should set a strong standard for PFAS.

What the State of Michigan Is Proposing

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has directed state agencies to establish science-based protections for known, dangerous forms of PFAS chemicals toxic to our health that have been found in Michigan communities’ public drinking water. There are currently no limits on PFAS compounds in public drinking water in Michigan.

The state is considering limits for the following chemicals in Michigan’s public drinking water supplies:

  • PFNA (6-parts per trillion)
  • PFOA (8-parts per trillion)
  • PFOS (16-parts per trillion)
  • PFHxS (51-parts per trillion)
  • GenX (370-parts per trillion)
  • PFBS (420-parts per trillion)
  • PFHxA (400,000-parts per trillion)

Michigan’s proposed limits are generally in line with those proposed in states with strong environmental programs (Click here and scroll down for State Regulatory and Oversight Challenges).

The proposed science-based limits for PFAS contaminants are a significant step forward to assure Michiganders have safe, clean drinking water. However, some industries that use PFAS and business associations will fight these protections and there are improvements that can be made to the proposed limits, which is why it’s important for Michiganders to weigh in with their public comments by Jan. 31 to ensure the state hears our priorities.

The Dangers of PFAS

Here are some key points to make in your public comment via email, U.S. mail, or attendance at a public hearing on the proposed limits for PFAS in drinking water:

PFAS contamination affects the drinking water of more than 1.9 million Michiganders, and we can’t delay action on protecting the health of our communities:

  • PFAS build up in the body over time and can lead to significant health complications, like cancers, thyroid conditions, autoimmune diseases, and reproductive issues.
  • We know PFAS chemicals pose health threats, and we know where it is coming from (directly from past and present industry pollution and from the wastewater treatment plants receiving their tainted wastewater), which is why the state must move swiftly to pass a standard that is protective of the health of Michigan communities.
  • Michigan should be a leader in addressing the PFAS contamination crisis, and that starts with strong standards for these toxic chemicals.

The PFAS limits proposed by the state are a step in the right direction, but key changes need to be made to ensure those standards protect the health of Michigan communities:

  • Michigan should be leading the country on setting the toughest standards for toxic PFAS chemicals in our drinking water.
  • Establishing a combined total standard for PFAS contaminants will set the baseline for ensuring Michiganders have safe, clean water to drink.

The PFAS standards must be protective of our most vulnerable populations and be based on the best available science:

  • Instead of considering just adults, state standards should consider PFAS impacts to children, pregnant women, those suffering from chronic illness, the elderly, and other vulnerable populations who are the most susceptible to the negative health impacts of exposure to PFAS.
  • Michigan’s PFAS standards should take into account the best available research and studies, like those done in New Hampshire, to ensure the limits are protective of public health.

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Public can comment online, via the mail, and at public hearings in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, & Roscommon