PFAS ban bill introduced in Michigan

Courtesy of Michigan DNR Crappie, one of the most popular fish for anglers in the Upper Peninsula, is among the most difficult pan fish to pattern, because of its tendency to suspend in the water column, except in the spring. It also listed as one of the safest fish to eat.

The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network on Wednesday issued a statement after state lawmakers introduced new legislation to protect Michiganders from dangerous PFAS chemicals.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals. Since the 1950s, PFAS have been used in many consumer products and industrial processes. They have properties that resist heat, grease and water. There are thousands of types of PFAS. The most common types are PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanoic sulfonic acid).

While PFOA and PFOS have been phased out from commercial products, they are still found in the environment from historical uses and in some firefighting foams. Additionally, products are often made with other PFAS as replacements for PFOA and PFOS. These PFAS can be found in everyday products, such as:

• Cleaning products.

• Water-resistant fabrics, such as rain jackets, umbrellas and tents.

• Grease-resistant paper.

• Nonstick cookware.

• Personal care products, like shampoo, dental floss, nail polish and eye makeup.

• Stain-resistant coatings used on carpets, upholstery and other fabrics.

Although PFOS use has been phased out, states the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it can still be found in drinking water, groundwater, soil and air. Exposure to certain PFAS may be associated with increased risk of thyroid cancer. A large-scale study on exposure to PFAS in humans and rodents showed consistent evidence of liver damage. Other hazards include altered immune and thyroid function, liver disease, lipid and insulin dysregulation, kidney disease, adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes and cancer.

If passed, the Hazardous Products Act, the release says, Products Act would require manufacturers to disclose if there are PFAS in their products and prohibit the sale of household products and firefighting foam containing PFAS.

The Hazardous Products Act would employ a tiered approach to phasing out PFAS in products. Starting in 2027, PFAS manufacturers would have to disclose products to the state of Michigan that contain intentionally added PFAS. That same year, the legislation would prohibit intentionally added PFAS in firefighting foam and 12 household product categories. In 2032, the sale of products that contain PFAS would be prohibited in all products unless the state of Michigan deems the PFAS in the product are unavoidable.

“Over the past several decades, we have not only seen the number of products that contain PFAS skyrocket, but we have also learned so much about the adverse effects these ‘forever chemicals’ have not just on our bodies, but our environment as well,” State Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) is quoted as saying. “This legislation, if enacted, will greatly help to reduce the total amount of PFAS in our environment, and will discourage companies and manufacturers from adding in these dangerous chemicals, simply for the sake of convenience, or to save a few bucks.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services releases Eat Safe Fish Guides annually in the spring, and emergency advisories as needed. Fish across the state are tested for PFAS in addition to other chemicals such as mercury, as all fish have some amount of mercury. As new guidelines are set as a result of elevated levels of PFOS, Michigan is releasing those advisories outside of the annual Eat Safe Fish Guides update.

The 2023 EFS available online states using the guide to choose the safest fish to eat, properly cleaning the fish, and with properly cooking, up to half of the chemicals can be eliminated from the fish.

“That means you can double the number of Michigan servings per month, if mercury or PFOS are not listed in the Chemical of Concern column. Unfortunately, every fish on every body of water in the Upper Peninsula is listed as containing at least mercury. Fish in Portage Lake, in Houghton County, not only contains mercury, but also PCBs, while smelt also contain PFOS.

In Keweenaw County, only mercury is listed as present in fish, except Lake Trout from Siskiwit Lake, on Isle Royale.

Like Keweenaw County, Ontonagon County lists only mercury as a chemical of concern, but also includes a note, on Page 73, stating bluegill, perch and other panfish are often a best choice.

The EFS Guide can be viewed at https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/-/media/Project/Websites/mdhhs/DEH/Eat-Safe-Fish/Documents/UP_EAT_SAFE_FISH_GUIDE_-_UPPER_PENINSULA_WEB.pdf


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