Bottled water available to residents after PFAS detected

Toxic Tap Water

PARCHMENT, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County officials have started to hand out bottled water to residents after finding the likely carcinogen PFAS in the water supply at levels up to 20 times higher than federal safety standards.

Residents can pick up two cases of bottled water until 8 p.m. at Parchment High School, located at 1916 E. G Avenue. Those who cannot get bottled water can arrange to have it delivered by calling 269.373.5346. Officials say all residents, even those who are not hooked up to the city’s water system, will receive bottled water.

Those on the city’s water system should immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula or food, and for rinsing fruits or vegetables. Health officials warn boiling water and common water filters will not remove PFAS. Skin contact with contaminated water is not considered a health concern.

Parchment’s drinking water system was tested as part of the state’s effort to check around 1,800 small municipal water systems for possible PFAS contamination.

Since the state started, officials said Parchment was the first municipal system to show high levels of PFAS. Around half of the 1,800 small drinking water systems have been tested.  

The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department issued an advisory Thursday for Parchment residents to stop using the city water system immediately. It comes after Michigan Department of Environmental Quality drinking water specialist Eric Oswald said water samples came back at 1,300 parts per trillion and 1,400 ppt — well above the Environmental Protection Agency’s threshold of 70 ppt.

It was the first time Parchment’s water system had ever been tested, according to city of Kalamazoo Utility Director Jim Baker.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also plans on testing residential wells in the area. The use of private kits to test drinking water is not recommended. 

“Right now, that’s not being recommended because we want to make sure your results qualify,” said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Rick Fuller.

Residents who think they may be impacted by the Parchment water situation can call 269.373.5346 for assistance. 

Fuller said that more than 3,000 cases of bottled water were handed out Friday with the help from volunteers, including the Parchment High School football team.  Water distribution will continue Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says exposure to PFAS may be linked to certain health conditions, including:

  • Liver damage
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Elevated total cholesterol
  • Elevated LDL cholesterol
  • Increased risk of thyroid disease
  • Decreased antibody response to vaccines
  • Increased risk of asthma
  • Fertility problems
  • Slight decreases in birth weight

The EPA set a health advisory benchmark of 70 parts per trillion for PFAS, however a recent study suggested the acceptable level of PFAS should be seven to 10 times lower than that.



Michigan PFAS Action Response Team

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