MDHHS releases Kent County PFAS study results, announces further studies in West Michigan


Courtesy to MDHHS’s Facebook Page

Kylie Elwell, Staff Reporter

On Sept. 8, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released their first findings of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which were found in the blood of people drinking water from private drinking well water in north Kent County. In 2016, they first discovered that many of these drinking wells contained PFAS levels above the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 parts per trillion (ppt).

“These findings suggest the need for continued public health action in the north Kent County area to investigate PFAS exposures and resulting long-term health effects,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “The assessment team continues to analyze data, including questionnaires and drinking water samples from study participants.”

While North Kent County Exposure Assessment (NKCEA)​ information is still being analyzed, MDHHS is actively planning other studies to look at health outcomes that may be linked to high PFAS levels found in Michigan communities. Upcoming research will be conducted in the Belmont/Rockford area in northern Kent County and two locations near Kalamazoo – Cooper Township and the City of Parchment.

“​Future reports for the NKCEA will describe PFAS concentrations in private drinking water wells, address the relationship between private drinking water well PFAS concentrations and participant serum PFAS concentrations, and consider self-reported factors that could affect PFAS exposure or elimination,” said MDHSS Communications Director Lynn Sutfin. “These will address all objectives of the study”

MiPEHS is a long-term study that will follow participants for approximately four years to measure their PFAS levels, together with levels of health markers, such as cholesterol, hormones and glucose, in the context of their health history. The ATSDR Multi-site study will examine the human health effects of exposures to PFAS in drinking water at locations around the U.S.

“Upcoming research will be conducted in the Belmont/Rockford area of northern Kent County and two locations near Kalamazoo: Cooper Township and the City of Parchment,” said Sutfin.

The residents in these areas will be asked to participate in two MDHHS studies: Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS) and a multi-site study coordinated by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).