Controlling PFAS Contamination

06.22.18   Cheryl A. Kehres-Dietrich, CGWP | More by this Author

Controlling PFAS Contamination

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are considered emerging contaminants at the national level. In Michigan, PFAS have been found in groundwater and surface water, and their presence presents a risk to the environment and humans. Because of this, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has issued regulations to control the discharge of these harmful substances into the environment.

In addition, the state has established the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), a multi-agency action team that is the first of its kind. MPART is a partnering of health, environmental and government agencies tasked with identifying sources of PFAS contamination and ensuring comprehensive, cohesive, and timely response to mitigate PFAS substances and protect the drinking water supply. The group has developed a website,, to educate the public about these harmful contaminants.

PFAS include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Potential PFAS sites include wastewater treatment plants, fire stations, airports, military facilities, refineries, petroleum stations and terminals, active and inactive landfills, superfund sites, electroplaters, leather and fabric treaters, tanneries, paper and packaging manufacturers, footwear manufacturers, furniture manufacturers, carpet manufacturers, and car washes.

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with Industrial Pretreatment Programs (IPPs) were alerted of the new regulations in February, and given a June 29 deadline for identifying potential sources of PFOA and PFOS and perform source monitoring of discharge from each identified potential source.

The state Fire Marshal has also surveyed fire service departments regarding their use of PFAS foam in training and emergencies, storage protocols and other best practice procedures. Certain firefighting foams are a known source of PFAS. This data is being used to develop statewide solutions to prevent further contamination related to firefighting foam.

The MDEQ has established a surface water Rule 57 Water Quality Standard (WQS) for PFOS of 12 ng/l (nanograms per liter or parts per trillion) for surface water that is not used for drinking water and 11 ng/l for those that are used as a drinking water source. The applicable WQS for PFOA is 12,000 ng/l for surface water that is not used for drinking water and 420 ng/l for those used as a drinking water source. The MDEQ residential and nonresidential drinking water criteria for groundwater are 0.07 µg/L (70 parts per trillion) for the combined concentration of PFOA and PFOS.

SME is keeping up to date with the state's PFAS requirements. Our environmental team can help you identify the presence and levels of PFAS in surface water and the subsurface, and work with you to develop and implement a remediation strategy.

Contact SME's Environmental Experts today for more information.

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