Officials in Michigan release fish consumption advisories after three lakes found to contain cancer-causing chemicals

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has issued a fish consumption advisory for three lakes in three separate Michigan counties. Multiple samples of fish taken from these sites are testing positive for mercury and cancer-causing polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).

Bluegill, sunfish, largemouth and smallmouth bass taken from Freska and Versluis Lake tested high for mercury and PFAs. Multiple fish samples taken from Lake Margrethe in Crawford County and a section of the Au Sable River between Grayling and Mio also tested positive for these carcinogens.

The department has issued “Eat Safe Fish” guidelines this year for all fish caught in these waterways. The department warns that residents should not eat more than two servings of northern pike, carp, and walleye in one month, and no more than one serving of largemouth and smallmouth bass measuring over eighteen inches long. Statewide fish guidelines are now in place for the public to view.

PFAs, persistent carcinogen and thyroid disrupters, often go untested

PFAs originate primarily from non-stick cookware, food wrappers, and firefighting foam. These chemicals pollute groundwater and are associated with hormone disruption, obesity, thyroid disorders, and increased risk of cancer. The highest levels are detected near military sites, wastewater treatment plants, and industrial areas. Not every municipality tests for these chemicals. A study from Harvard found that 66 water samples from 33 different states had tested higher than the EPA’s limit of 70 parts of PFASs per trillion (ng/L). This negatively impacts the health of an estimated six million people across the U.S.

PFA contamination is pervasive throughout Michigan

Michigan officials have now confirmed specific sites with elevated levels of PFAs. As you can see, the problem is pervasive.

These contaminated sites include the following: The Alpena Combat Readiness Center, the Alpena Hide and Leather, the Municipal Water Treatment Plant in Ann Arbor, the Escanaba Defense Fuel Supply Point in Escanaba, the Coldwater landfill in Flint, the Grayling Army Airfield and Grayling Municipal Wells in Grayling, the KI Sawyer Air Force Base in Gwinn, the M-60/Pine Lake St. Gas Tanker Spill in Howard Township, Adams Plating in Lansing, Lapeer Plating in Lapeer, Clinton River and Lake St. Clair in Mt. Clemens, the Roosevelt Refinery in Mt. Pleasant, Colbath Road and Oscoda Area Schools in Oscoda, the State Disposal Facility in Plainfield Township, the Wurtsmith Air Force Base and Van Etten Lake in Oscoda, the Rockford Tannery in Rockford, and the Huron Shores Regional Water Authority in Tawas.

The now shuttered  footwear manufacturer Wolverine World Wide is a major source of PFA environmental contamination near Rockford. Neighboring homes have found elevated levels of PFAs in their well water. PFA contamination here comes from the compounds that were used to waterproof the footwear. The contamination still affects Rogue River and surrounding areas. The most recent 2017 fish samples show that PFA contamination reaches north and south of the dam. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is planning a large fish study in Rogue River over the spring and summer of 2018.

The 60-acre Freska Lake near the northwestern corner of the area will also be studied further. The 50-acre Versluis Lake sits nearby a gravel pit where toxic tannery waste was dumped many years ago. The 1,920-acre Margrethe Lake in Crawford County is under investigation as well due to firefighting foam contamination from the National Guard base. The other waterway under investigation is the Au Sable River, which runs 138 miles through the Huron-Manistee National Forest. The river, a popular route for kayakers and nature enthusiasts, passes by Camp Grayling and opens up near Wurtsmith Air Force Base, another site of contamination.

For more on water quality concerns, visit Chemicals.News.

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