What are PFAS?
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), are part of a group of chemicals used globally during the past century in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of common household and other consumer products. These chemicals can be present in personal care products such as cosmetics and lotions, some insect repellants and sunscreens, and even in pizza boxes and fast food wrappers.
In recent years, experts have become increasingly concerned by the potential effects of high concentrations of PFAS on human health. The state formed the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), which is a unique, multi-agency proactive approach for coordinating state resources to address PFAS contamination. Learn more at www.michigan.gov/pfasresponse.
PFAS Contamination and Local Waterbodies (lakes, rivers, and streams)
It is still safe to swim, boat, and enjoy water recreation - but avoid foam!
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is advising residents to avoid foam in local waterbodies. Foam can form on any waterbody, and sometimes foam can have harmful chemicals in it. PFAS foam could have much higher amounts of PFAS than the water. PFAS-containing foam tends to be bright white in color, lightweight and may pile up along shores or blow onto beaches. Natural foam without PFAS is usually off-white and/or brown in color, often has an earthy or fishy scent, and tends to pile up in bays, eddies or at river barriers such as dams.
If you do come in contact with foam, rinse off or bathe as soon as possible. This is especially true if the waterbody has suspected PFAS contamination. Coming into contact with foam without rinsing off or bathing can lead to accidentally swallowing foam or foam residue, which is higher risk.
PFAS and Drinking Water
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) tested all of the municipal water systems in Michigan in 2018. EGLE is also testing other public places served by wells, including schools and daycare centers.
If you’re concerned about your well water, our Environmental Health staff can provide personalized information and guidance. Give them a call at 734-222-3800.
To find information about your well, including your well log, which is a detailed construction record for your well, please read our Instructions for Finding Your Well Log (PDF).
If you want to test your water, information is available on our page How to Test Drinking Water for PFAS.
PFAS and Health
Scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposures to mixtures of PFAS. Although more research is needed, some studies in people have shown that certain PFAS may:
- affect 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
- increase the risk of certain types of cancer