Giving Compass' Take:
- Jena Brooker discusses how scientists tested rainwater across the Great Lakes region of Michigan and found high levels of PFAS in all areas.
- How can donors support research to trace PFAS back to specific polluters? How can these findings inform policy?
- Read about the need to regulate PFAS contaminants in drinking water.
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In northern Michigan, across rolling sand dunes and a picturesque village situated on Lake Michigan, it is raining toxic PFAS chemicals.
No, really. It is.
A team of U.S. and Canadian scientists analyzed rainfall at six sites across the Great Lakes region and found high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, at all the sites, including, surprisingly, rural Michigan. The rainwater samples contained PFAS levels between 100 to 400 parts per trillion (ppt). For comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “safe” limit for drinking water — not rainwater — is 70 ppt.
The findings highlight the ubiquitous nature of PFAS chemicals, man-made substances used in common household products because of their water-, oil-, and grease-resistant qualities. Firefighting foam is also a main source of PFAS. Commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” their legacy can be found everywhere — in soil, groundwater, lakes, oceans, and now, even the rain.
“All of these products that we use in our everyday life are treated with PFAS,” Marta Venier, an environmental chemist at Indiana University and the principal investigator for the research, told Grist. “So every time we use them, there is either dust or air where these chemicals are released.”
Read the full article about PFAS chemicals in the Great Lakes region by Jena Brooker at Grist.