Michigan state officials have disclosed that trace amounts of toxic pollutants have been found in two public water supplies.
While the pollutants do not exceed the advisory threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency, their presence could panic a state that has been scandalized by poisoned water.
The two pollutants are perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and perfluorooctanoic acid, both of which belong to a class of compounds known as perfluorinated chemicals, have been linked to serious health problems when ingested past the recommended threshold, according to MLive.
PFOS and PFOA chemicals were found in the water supplies of Ann Arbor and Plainfield Township. Local authorities discovered the pollutants in both raw and treated water, but have not determined how the contamination occurred.
John Bradley of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality stated it was possible the contamination in Plainfield Township originates from a closed landfill, which could mean that the pollutants are also present in the Michigan Grand River.
“We’re still waiting for some data to come in, but that’s a natural assumption,” Bradley said.
The EPA has warned that exposure to PFOA and PFOS can cause serious health problems. Pregnant women who consume the pollutants could risk birth complications while breast-fed children could also suffer developmental issues.
The chemicals can also impact adults, their ingestion linked to testicular and kidney cancers and thyroid disorders.
Toxicologist Christina Bush of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services stressed that while the presence of PFOS and PFOA was troubling, they were not in a high enough concentration to make people sick.
“Yes, people are being exposed, but they are exposed to less than the lifetime health advisory number,” Bush said. “The chemicals are there, but they are less than what we’d be concerned about as far as any potential harm.”
Contaminated water has become a sensitive issue in Michigan after the discovery that the town of Flint had high levels of lead in its water.
After the state decided to temporarily switch the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, the corrosive and untreated water leeched the lead from Flint’s outdated piping, exposing residents to dangerous levels of lead for months, according to CNN.
Harvey Hollis, a key advisor of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, recently stated that efforts to make Flint’s drinking water safe again are paying off.
“Things are getting back to normal,” Hollis told WIAT. “What needs to occur is developing and building trust. That’s going to be a long task.”