- Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have emerged in the last half century as concerning global contaminants. PFASs have been found in drinking water systems causing negative health impacts for those who rely on this as their primary source of drinking water. PFASs are man-made industrial chemicals composed of carbon chains bonded to fluorine and other substances and cause detrimental impacts to the environment and human health (TOMWC, 2019c). While PFASs are not a new substance, the adverse effects are just starting to be realized. In response, Michigan is pursuing a leadership role in policy, research, training and clean-up/remediation plans for PFAS contamination with the implementation of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART). The State of Michigan is poised to be one of the first states to enact Maximum Contamination Levels (MCLs) for some of the most impactful PFASs.
This capstone project seeks to determine the effectiveness of the current legislation and PFAS Action Plans in protecting Michigan citizens from PFAS contaminated drinking water. A review of the current and proposed federal and Michigan legislation was completed as well as the impacts associated with PFASs exposure which identified the success of current policies with regards to the environment, the ecosystem, human health, the economy and the socio-political scene. Additionally, local Northern Michigan government officials and employees of environmental organizations were surveyed to ascertain their opinions of the effectiveness of MPART, the current regulated PFASs levels and to determine what more can be done to assist local areas with current and future PFAS contamination. Key findings of the literature review and the survey illustrate a need for stricter and more detailed legislation that include nationwide MCLs for individual PFASs, further research on the impacts, with emphasis on human health. In addition, it was found that while it might be too early to determine the effectiveness of MPART, there is evidence that local officials lack the necessary training to adequately administer best practices to help mitigate PFAS contamination.