Support Health Department’s PFAS resolution
County Commissioner Brenda Fournier’s statement that “PFAS hasn’t been proven to kill anybody” (“Board member hesitant on PFAS resolution,” March 20) may be correct.
As to whether PFAS is “very, very harmful,” yes, it is. Any chemical with a lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (70 drops in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools) is harmful. While it won’t kill you outright, a “probable link” determination has been made for PFC-related testicular and kidney cancer, diabetes, birth defects, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia, miscarriage or stillbirth, and preterm and low-birth-weight infants.
PFOA and PFOS bio-accumulate in fish and humans. Some fish bio-concentrate PFOS greater than 2,000-fold over the levels measured in their aquatic environments. In humans, the half-life for elimination is about four years for PFOA and five to seven years for PFOS. A person ingesting PFOA or PFOS today will not completely eliminate them for 28 and 49 years, respectively. The longer a chemical circulates in the blood and remains in body tissues, the greater potential for damage and disease.
As to concerns about a District Health Department resolution on PFAS making Alpena a “target,” having two PFAS contamination sites already puts a bullseye on Alpena County. PFAS contaminates the former Alpena Hide and Leather site, which is being addressed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Combat Readiness Training Center, which the military claims insufficient funds to address. Both sites may impact the Thunder Bay River watershed. If you fish the Thunder Bay River, you ought to be concerned about PFAS.
As a representative on the DHD4 board, Commissioner Fournier should consider transparency and accountability. Kudos to the District Health Department for being on the leading edge of this evolving community and environmental health problem. If a resolution will result in more action and attention to PFAS, then bring it on!