DEQ team explains PFAS contamination response, action

Tom Vranich, Contributing Writer

Photo by Tom Vranich

DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Supervisor Abigail Hendershott is shown speaking about issues related to PFAS contamination during a recent presentation at the Torch Lake Café.


REGION – Representatives from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality presented basic information on Per and Poly-fluoroalkyl substances referred to as PFAS, along with their testing and investigations during a recent presentation to about 40 citizens assembled at the Torch Lake Café. The non-partisan event was sponsored by the Antrim County Democrats.

Developed in the late 1940s, PFAS describes a family of over 5,000 generic man-made chemicals used to make products that resist heat, oils, grease, stains and water. The compounds have been used in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, apparel, building and construction, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, electronics, oil and gas, energy, healthcare and hospitals, aqueous film forming foam and semiconductors.

Research reveals they are not only pervasive and persistent, but bio-accumulate and are associated with adverse health effects.

“Common products with PFAS include Teflon, Gortex and clothes and carpets treated with Scotchgard,” explained DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Supervisor Abigail Hendershott, who works out of a Grand Rapids office that serves nine western Michigan counties.

“The strong carbon-fluorine bond, that is the backbone of the PFOS compound, gives it unique properties such as being resistant to natural biodegradation in the environment.”

According to Hendershott, currently there exists a scarcity of information of PFAS in scientific literature as well as a lack of sufficient standards.

“The Michigan DEQ Part 201 drinking water cleanup criteria of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS is being considered by other states,” she said, and added that because of the highly mobile nature of PFAS and contaminant distribution that can be affected by organic carbon, pH and clay content, environmental PFAS models are lacking with more studies needed.

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