Michigan declared a state of emergency this week for communities whose drinking water is contaminated with perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA); these commercial chemicals were once widely used but are no longer manufactured in the US. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) discovered the contamination on July 26 in Parchment, a city in southwestern Michigan, according to Chemical & Engineering News.
Parchment is draining and flushing its water supply pipes with water from nearby Kalamazoo. In the meantime, residents are being provided with bottled drinking water.
Contamination was also discovered in Cooper Township. Tests on water from the two communities showed levels of PFOS more than 20 times higher than EPA recommendation, writes the Detroit Metro Times.
Kalamazoo County is one of 34 sites that have been identified as contaminated since a state-wide initiative to test all of the state’s public drinking water supplies was launched in March. Other areas of contamination include Ann Arbor and the Battle Creek area, according to CNN.
The EPA says PFOS and PFOA have been linked to health issues like cancer, liver and kidney problems, and immune system disruptions.
Michigan is exploring a suit against 3M for compensation for past clean-ups of the chemicals. The state is also suing Wolverine World Wide, a Michigan shoe manufacturer that was found to have disposed of tannery wastes containing the chemicals.