PFAS detected in groundwater at Oakland Airport, several nearby homes – The Oakland Press


Hazardous chemical once used in many consumer products, from kitchenware, stain repellants and cleaning products to industrial fire-fighting foams, has been detected in groundwater below Oakland County International Airport , in the Township of Waterford.

PFAS, the label for a chemical family known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, was identified in a report submitted today to the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy ( EGLE).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFASs ingested or absorbed by humans or animals can have negative health effects.

In humans, larger studies have found increased cholesterol levels in those exposed, while more limited studies have linked chemical exposure to infant birth weight effects on the immune system. , cancer and disruption of thyroid hormones.

Animal studies have shown that the chemicals caused tumors, while laboratory animals suffered reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney effects, and immunological effects.

Oakland County officials said test results from seven of eight airport field monitoring wells in May showed detectable levels of one or more PFAS compounds. Four of these wells had concentrations exceeding state standards.

ASTi Environmental, which installed the wells, said initial tests at the airport site showed groundwater was flowing in a south-southeast direction towards the M-59.

It is not known where the PFAS came from.

“Oakland County International Airport has long been committed to minimizing our impact on the environment. … We are always looking for ways to be better stewards of the environment, ”said J. David VanderVeen, director of county central services who also oversees the airport. “We apply the same mindset to investigate and process the detection of PFAS at the airport. “

North of the airport, the state has identified 24 homes on well water. Thirteen homeowners have opted for the water to be state tested. Results for 11 homes showed detectable concentrations of one or more PFAS compounds.

According to officials, only one test result exceeded state standards. EGLE has asked Oakland County to install drinking water filters in these 11 homes.

The source of PFAS beyond the airport grounds is not known.

The county airport is one of 20 airports in the state required to test for PFAS, officials said. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations mandate the use of Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) containing PFAS. Such a foam is effective in extinguishing aircraft fires.

Airports have used fire-fighting foam containing PFAS since the mid-1960s.

Officials said the airport’s 24-hour rescue and firefighting unit is “cautious” in its use of foam containing PFAS, limiting its use only in the event of a fire. There were seven firefighting incidents on airport property between 1996 and 2019 where foam was used.

During workouts, only water is used, officials added.

In October 2018, Congress ordered that the FAA no longer require airports to use foam containing PFAS. The FAA has yet to lift these requirements, according to county officials.

A web page has been launched to educate the public.


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