Traverse City News and Events

PFAS Test Results Show Contaminated Drinking Wells In East Bay Township

By Beth Milligan | Nov. 16, 2020

State officials who tested 15 private wells in East Bay Township for PFAS chemicals linked to cancer and other health risks found some level of contaminants in all 15 wells, with seven wells testing above safe drinking water maximums.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced in October it would test several wells in Pine Grove neighborhood for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS). The group of man-made chemicals, which are found in numerous industrial and consumer products, have been identified in recent years as an "emerging contaminant" posing health risks to humans, according to Michigan’s Environmental Health department. The chemicals have been linked to increased cholesterol, decreased fertility, and increased likelihood of certain cancers, among other risks.

The Parsons Road area was tested because of its proximity to Cherry Capital Airport and the U.S Coast Guard Air Station. Firefighting foam used for training purposes at those sites since the 1970s has been found to contain PFAS at other locations, including Blair Township. According to a press release Monday, all 15 private wells tested in Pine Grove neighborhood showed some level of PFAS, with 7 wells testing above drinking water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for the chemicals.

The Grand Traverse County Health Department has contacted the owners of the wells that were tested to review individual results. As a precautionary measure, residents who live in the affected neighborhood have been supplied with bottled water since October 22, and will continue to be supplied with bottled water until water filters can be installed, according to the Health Department.

"A coordinated effort between EGLE, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHHS), and Grand Traverse County Health Department will be ongoing," according to the release. "Further analysis, planning, and monitoring of the properties near the Pine Grove neighborhood will continue."

Any questions regarding wells or drinking water in areas near the East Bay Township location should be directed to the GTCHD’s Environmental Health Division at 231-995-6051.

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