‘Substantial drops’ seen in PFAS entering Michigan waterways from businesses

Jan 9, 2020


Shiny surgical gowns worn in metro Detroit hospitals turned out to be toxic.

They arrived at a Downriver Detroit medical laundry in batches of dirty hospital linen. Washing cleaned them. It also flushed PFAS into the Detroit River, representing one stream among waves of the chemicals streaming into the state’s surface water.

The reason wasn’t obvious at first, but investigators soon figured it out.

“Some of the surgical gowns had PFAS coating on them,” according to state officials summarizing their look into the discharges.

That contamination illustrates results from one of hundreds of lab tests measuring the chemicals at Michigan businesses since 2018 as the state took its search for PFAS contamination into 95 of Michigan’s wastewater treatment plants.

Michigan’s effort to find PFAS coming from active industry is the nation’s first source-reduction program in wastewater for the toxic per- and poly-fluorinated compounds, which affect the drinking water of millions of Americans.

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