Chemicals Linked to Cancer Present in Drinking Water Across Michigan

Chemicals that pose a significant threat to human health and the environment – known as PFAS chemicals - are present in high levels in drinking water, lakes and streams across Michigan. State officials have been aware of the risk to the population since at least 2012, according to documents obtained by MLive. Yet officials have failed to systematically alert Michiganders to the threat or to safeguard the public, particularly pregnant women and infants, from drinking water contamination.

State action may be more difficult due to a new law creating “polluter panels” that give polluters the power to override policy decisions made by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The following is a reaction by Erik Olson, Senior Director of Health & Food at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

“Michigan’s government has no business hiding facts about the harm of water contamination from residents. Again. The people of Michigan deserve a strong, health-based, enforceable standard for PFAS chemicals in their tap water. Other states, like New Jersey and Vermont are already taking steps to protect residents against the health risks associated with PFAS chemicals; Michigan should join them.

“The next governor should abolish Snyder’s pollution panels before they get in the way of dealing with this looming drinking water disaster.

“If new EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wants to start rebuilding public trust for his Agency, he needs to aggressively tackle this widespread contamination problem as an advocate for public health, not as an industry lobbyist.”

PFAS chemicals—used for their non-stick and stain-resistant properties in food packaging, cookware, carpets, textiles and more – are probable carcinogens, which have recently been found to be unsafe at levels much lower than those established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​