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Addressing PFAS contamination in Parchment


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of hundreds of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States, since the 1940s. The most-studied iterations of PFAS – PFOA and PFOS – have been associated with disease in animals at doses higher than what is in the environment. The Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) suggests that potential human impacts include: low infant birth weights, adverse effects on the immune system, liver damage, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).

There is currently no enforceable federal standard for PFOS and PFOA but the EPA issued a health advisory guidance in November 2016 on acceptable lifetime levels in drinking water (70 parts per trillion or 70 ppt). In addition, EPA is currently going through the scientific review process for possible federal regulation of PFOS and PFOA under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also called Superfund). EPA is also developing groundwater cleanup standards for PFOA and PFOS and toxicity values for additional PFAS. The State of Michigan regulates PFOS and PFOA in water and currently has a maximum allowable limit of 70 ppt. Earlier this year, the State of Michigan began testing more than 1,300 public water systems across the state for possible contamination.

The city of Parchment in July was found to have levels of PFAS at more than 20 times the EPA-recommended level and state enforceable standard. 

As of August 27 2018, the Drinking Water Advisory has been LIFTED for the Parchment Municipal Water Supply. 

Action from Fred: 

The Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) Reauthorization, which became law under Fred’s leadership as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, gives EPA the right to require new information on chemicals, including PFAS. EPA is currently going through their mandated scientific review process for the different PFAS chemicals and Fred is working with them on making a decision.

Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a much-anticipated draft report discussing minimal risk levels – a general estimate of the amount of a chemical a person can eat, drink, or breathe each day without a detectable risk to health daily – and stating that the health effects of PFAS could happen in levels lower than previously thought.  The draft study’s findings were kept from the public, and was not released until last month after pressure from the public and legislators. The ATSDR draft study said that the EPA’s recommended maximum limit of 70 ppt could be much higher than what is safe to ingest.

In light of this report, Fred and Rep. Kildee, D-Flint, sent a letter to EPA urging them to revise their maximum recommended standards to the ASTR levels. 

As soon as levels of PFAS where discovered in Parchment's water supply, Fred joined with local officials and leaders to help spread the word not to drink the water and helped distribute bottled water.

Fred and Rep. Kildee released a public statement urging action in both the short-term and long-term and signaling cooperation on bipartisan legislation to regulate PFAS in drinking water. Fred and Rep. Kildee have also previously spearheaded bipartisan legislation, in response to the Flint Water Crisis, which strengthened requirements to have the EPA step in to notify the public when drinking water was discovered to not be safe. The legislation was signed into law by President Obama in 2016. 

Fred attended, and spoke at, the public town hall on PFAS in Parchment on July 31st. 

The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment held a hearing on PFAS on September 6

Fred and the U.S. House voted to reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act which includes more funding to help communities, like Parchment, deal with PFAS contamination. 

Fred and the U.S. House advanced a bipartisan package that includes $14 million to help PFAS cleanup. 

Fred introduces the bipartisan PFAS Federal Facility Accountability Act alongside U.S. Reps Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, and Tim Walberg. 

News Reports: 

WSJM: Upton introduces water quality legislation

Detroit News
: U.S. House panel set to hold hearings on PFAS contamination

WSJM: Hearing on PFAS contamination next week

WWMT NewsChannel 3: PFAS contamination hearing planned on Capitol Hill 

Michigan Radio: Parchment residents can drink their tap water again 

MLive: Upton, Kildee support bill to regulate PFAS in drinking water

WWMT Channel 3: VIDEO: PFAS live interview with Congressman Fred Upton 

Michigan Radio: Bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers ask for tougher safeguards on PFAS health advisories 

MLive: Bipartisan group wants 'immediate' PFAS safety levels update 

POLITICO: Calls for bipartisan action on PFAS 

Ripon Advance: Upton spearheads bipartisan request seeking stronger EPA water protections 

WSJM: Upton on PFAS contamination 

Addressing PFAS contamination on and near DOD bases in Michigan


PFAS contamination has been confirmed on and near six current and former military bases in Michigan, and testing is ongoing at five others including the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

PFAS contamination has been linked to firefighting foam – Aqueous Film Forming Foam or AFFF – used by the Air Force.  In 2016, the Air Force announced that it would transition to a new “environmentally responsible AFFF” and would limit the use of it to emergency responses while treating all releases as hazardous spills to ensure containment.

Action from Fred: 

The Michigan delegation has been united in addressing PFAS contamination on and near current and former DOD military installations, and Fred has helped lead the way in the House:

In December of 2017, Fred led a letter with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, signed by most of the Michigan delegation, urging the EPA to take a strong role in addressing PFAS water contamination across the state, including at several military installations.

In February of 2018, Fred led a letter with Rep. Kildee urging full funding for a nationwide Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study on the health impacts of PFAS in drinking water in the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Appropriations bill. The final bill contained more than $60 million for research and remediation including $10 million for the CDC study. The study is critical to better understanding the long-term health implications of PFAS exposure through water sources.

For a second year in a row, the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized $10 million for the CDC study.

In March of 2018, Fred led a letter with Rep. Kildee to House Appropriators urging “robust funding” for PFAS contamination remediation on or near military bases. The state of Michigan estimates that it will cost at least $328 million to remediate PFAS contamination from military instillations alone across the state.

In August of 2018, Fred sent a letter to the National Guard Bureau and Air National Guard calling it "Utterly unacceptable and irresponsible" that any information on PFAS levels would be withheld from individuals who are possibly affected. 

News Reports: 

MLive: Withholding PFAS results at Battle Creek base 'unacceptable' Upton says

WBCK: Rep. Upton calls for ANG base PFAS test results to be released 

WWMT Channel 3: Upton asks National Guard to quickly release PFAS testing data for Battle Creek ANG base

Further information regarding PFAS contamination in Parchment via Kalamazoo County Government: 

For more information from the Kalamazoo County Government please click HERE.

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