A community-focused discussion on the threat of PFAS to the Huron River took place in Milford on October 4. You can find the presentation slides here.
State, County, and Huron River Watershed Council staff provided introductory remarks and answered questions from the audience. The meeting was presented by the Huron River Watershed Council, the Village of Milford, Milford Township and City of Wixom.
- PFAS are toxic, synthetic chemicals associated with many health problems.
- PFAS have been found in the in the Huron River and throughout Michigan.
- PFAS are still being used to produce many common products and PFAS pollution is widespread in Michigan.
- PFAS pollution in drinking water is not regulated by federal law. Michigan DEQ established a cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water on January 10, 2018.
- Legislators from both major political parties at the state and federal level have called for greater regulation of PFAS and greater support for cleanup efforts.
- So far, public drinking water in the Huron River Watershed has tested as safe to drink. Private wells have not been tested in most cases. Concerned residents on private wells should contact their county health departments.
- Fish from the Huron River should not be eaten. MDHSS issued a “Do Not Eat Fish” advisory that applies to most of the Huron River.
- There is little evidence that swimming in water contaminated with PFAS is a health risk, but much is unknown about prolonged, repeated exposure of PFAS with human skin.
- Avoid ingesting river foam and keep pets away. PFAS concentrates in foam.
Don’t Eat the Fish!
Until further notice, do not eat fish from the Huron River.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a “Do Not Eat Fish” advisory for most of the Huron River from the crossing at North Wixom Road in Milford all the way to Lake Erie.
The advisory did not specifically apply to tributaries along the Huron River, but HRWC is also advising that fish should not be eaten from connecting lakes and creeks. Read the August 31 MDHHS advisory here.
The map image shows the section of the river covered by the advisory in red. Sections of the watershed from which HRWC also recommends avoiding eating fish are shown as pink.
Stay Tuned for Updates
This is a rapidly developing issue for the Huron River watershed. There is still a lot we don’t know but we are learning more as ongoing research brings in new information. We will provide updates here, through emails, blogs, social networking posts, and media interviews. Sign up to get our email updates and news here:
Michigan residents concerned about PFAS in drinking water should contact the Michigan Environmental Assistance Center with questions, 800-662-9278, M-F, 8am-4:30pm.
We Need to Fix the Problem
The Michigan Environmental Council has compiled a comprehensive set of solutions to protect people, wildlife, and the environment from PFAS. In summary, we need the State to:
Protect public health
We need the State to establish a drinking water standard for PFAS under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, provide options at no cost to individual residents in impacted communities, and fund new treatment technologies for public water systems.
The DEQ must publish all information they have gathered from all sources, and they need to investigate why a 2012 PFAS report was disregarded. The State needs to create a public, easy-to-read map that clearly shows all known contaminated groundwater plumes in Michigan.
Make polluters clean up their mess
We need to keep in place rules that allow new cleanup standards to be set quickly for chemicals like PFAS. The State needs to provide funding to clean up contaminated sites, penalize polluters, and hold companies accountable when they are aware of the dangers of PFAS but do not disclose the risks to the public.