Addressing the local PFAS problems

It seems there are two sides to the Alpena area PFAS problem. PFAS, a large group of manmade chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make products like non-stick kitchenware, waterproofed clothing, shoes, and furniture, found in fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, paper cups, and firefighting foam. The odds are every person in Alpena has PFAS chemicals in their blood.

The PFAS chemicals are accumulative, “stay put” chemicals that do not leave the human body. The PFAS health effects can cause cancer, thyroid problems, liver effects, low birth rates, developmental problems with children, and the list keeps growing. Sadly, for every harmful, toxic chemical man has created, someone has made a profit. Meanwhile, people’s health and lives have suffered collateral damage.

Certain entities don’t want the people to know about the dangers of PFAS contamination because it may cost tourists dollars when people don’t visit PFAS-contaminated areas. This profit over health debate brings the question, when do we tell the people about the harmful effects of the toxic PFAS contamination? The PFAS industry knew about the harmful effects of their PFAS compounds over 30 years ago and did nothing to warn the people.

Levels of PFAS are found in every body of water in the world, including our Thunder Bay River, our bay, and inland lakes. Higher concentrations of PFAS can be found in the white foam caused by rapid running water, especially running through damns. We must always assume every bit of white foam we see running down our river or wind-blown up on our shorelines has a high level of PFAS in it. The State of Michigan has issued a “Do not touch the Foam” warning. Log onto the Health Department website (www.dhd4.org) to learn more. It’s your health.

JIM DesROCHER,

Alpena