Michigan Adopts New PFAS Drinking Water Standards – What Does This Mean For Your Business?

On July 22, 2020, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced that Michigan will adopt new standards, limiting PFAS concentrations in drinking water to some of the strictest levels in the nation.

The regulation is expected to come into effect on August 3rd, 2020.

PFOS and PFOA belong to the wider class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that have been used in many industrial applications and consumer products for decades. In recent years researchers began to associate certain PFAS with a range of potential health and environmental effects, bringing increased pressure to stop the production and use of some types of PFAS, starting with PFOS and PFOA, and to clean up PFAS-contaminated soil and water.

How does this impact your business?

It is important to understand how the new standards may affect your operations and if any response actions are required. Since the regulatory criteria are very low, even small amounts of PFAS in drinking water can create issues. Identifying the potential current or historical uses of PFAS in your business and development of PFAS-free or low-impact operational practices are fundamental steps to reduce potential environmental liabilities.

  • PFAS have been widely used in many manufacturing applications as mist suppressants, surfactants, and coating of materials for waterproofing, as well as oil and stain protection.
  • Typical industries include metal plating, chemical, textile, pulp, and paper, electronic, semiconductor, automotive and others.
  • PFAS are one of the key components in firefighting foams primarily used to extinguish and prevent liquid hydrocarbon fires (Class B foams) and therefore are found at military bases, airports, firefighting training areas, historic fires, fire stations, refineries, fuel/oil bulk storage terminals, large rail yards, manufacturing plants and mines.
  • Other sources of PFAS to the environment include landfills (primarily via leachate), wastewater treatment plants (industrial and municipal) as well as areas with biosolids application.

Because of the high solubility, ubiquitous use, and recalcitrant nature of many of these compounds, PFAS can be found in the environment at significant distances from identified sources. Also, these sources can be active for decades after their last use or release.

How can Golder help?

At Golder we have been addressing PFAS challenges for our clients for more than a decade, when PFAS were still unknown to many in the industry. Our experience includes addressing PFAS at over one hundred projects spanning all sectors including manufacturing, government, infrastructure, power, waste, oil and gas, and mining. Our work investigating and treating PFAS in multiple locations across the country and within Michigan, includes:

  • screening and ranking of complex site portfolios for liability management
  • identifying highest priorities for corrective action
  • developing low-impact operational practices
  • addressing compliance issues

We have developed innovative tools for fingerprinting PFAS sources and assessing “fate and transport,” as well as smart approaches for source prioritization by focusing on PFAS mass flux assessment. These tactics lead to expedited identification of main contributors of PFAS mass and allow for timely mass reduction.

The future of PFAS treatment

Despite significant effort, sustainable and reliable remediation solutions for PFAS remain limited. At Golder, we have been working collaboratively with clients and academia on applied research and development and have strategically focused on the development of treatment options for the destruction of PFAS in both soil and water with promising results.

Golder’s team welcomes proposals from site owners and managers interested in learning how these technologies can solve their issues and to partner for bench/pilot studies. Click here to contact Golder’s PFAS team.


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