Michigan bill proposes nation’s lowest PFAS limit in drinking water
On Dec. 13, Brinks and six Democrat co-sponsors introduced Michigan House Bill 5373, which would establish a state standard for PFAS in drinking water of 5-parts-per-trillion (ppt), which is 14 times lower than the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory level of 70-ppt for two PFAS chemicals, PFOS and PFOA.
Brinks said the EPA 70-ppt advisory level — a non-regulatory limit that is not enforceable by law like a drinking water standard — isn’t as protective of public health as it ought to be.
"Maybe 5-ppt is not exactly the right number, but we need to start with sufficiently low number that were having a real conversation about actual health impacts with a specific level," she said.
A House Republican representing the Kent County area undergoing PFAS testing was more circumspect.
"Obviously, we rely on scientific evidence and the opinion of the EPA to give us direction in this matter and they have said 70-ppt — with an abundance of caution — is where it should be for drinking water," said Rep. Chris Afendoulis, R-East Grand Rapids.
The EPA advisory level may not be as health-protective as new research indicates it should be and doesn’t incorporate recent toxicology studies, say EWG scientists.
"The fastest route to ensure clean drinking water is state action, such as the legislation introduced by Rep. Brinks to set more stringent limits for PFOA and PFOS contamination of water," said Andrews.
"It is encouraging to see Michigan join other states — such as New Jersey and Vermont — that have set or proposed legal drinking water limits that provide greater assurance of safety than the federal health advisory levels."
At the Rockford townhall meeting, DHHS environmental health director Kory Groetsch said the health department uses the latest available science but said there’s still a lot to be learned about PFAS and how it affects humans.
The EPA level is "based on what we know now," Groetsch said.