HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan medical laboratory has become the first lab in the state testing for PFAS, a move that could save homeowners hundreds of dollars and weeks of waiting for test results.
Trident Labs of Holland is certified for medical tests — checking urine and saliva for opioids and other drugs — something it does for doctors and hospitals.
A month ago, it started testing well water for PFAS using the same methods, the same lab technicians and the same equipment.
The state Department of Environmental Quality, which plans to open its own PFAS lab, has said it has been in contact with Trident and hopes to learn more.
“Given that lab testing for PFAS takes several weeks, it will be beneficial to have additional testing resources in-state that can augment the planned state laboratory,” DEQ spokesman Scott Dean told Target 8.
Another lab, Merit Laboratories in East Lansing, announced Tuesday it was also testing water for PFAS.
Trident Lab leaders said they were motivated by the PFAS scare in northern Kent County and at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
Some out-of-state labs charge $600 or more to check for PFAS in water samples. That doesn’t include the cost of shipping.
Trident said it’s charging $250.
Homeowners, including those around old Wolverine Worldwide dumpsites in northern Kent County, have waited a month for results.
Trident said it can turn them around in a week or less.
“We saw the challenges that were happening in the industry and we knew there were just a handful of labs nationwide doing it and they were charging exorbitant prices,” said Trident Technical Supervisor Lyle Rawlings. “We knew we could do better, and so that’s what we set out to do.”
Rawlings, who suggested the testing, was first in line to check his own well water.
He lives just east of Rockford, outside Wolverine Worldwide’s PFAS zone, but close enough to worry.
“I know how they feel, you know. It’s something that could potentially have really catastrophic effects on your life, or your loved ones’ lives.”
He said his water tested negative.
However, of the six results it’s gotten from wells near the Ford airport, two were positive — both less than the 70 parts per trillion limit set by the state.
Trident tested the homes in response to a Target 8 investigation that found the Ford used lots of PFAS-tainted AFFF firefighting foam for decades, mostly for testing.
The same foam has contaminated military bases across the country.
Trident’s results are similar to those found by Gordon Water Systems of Grand Rapids, which says two of the 10 homes it has tested near the airport showed low levels of PFAS.
Gordon charges $300 but sends samples to labs in Minnesota and Florida.
Trident expects to test more wells around the airport.
Three other West Michigan municipal airports have said they also used PFAS firefighting foam — Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport; WK Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek and Muskegon County Airport in Norton Shores.
Also, the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base is testing groundwater and soil samples to look for possible PFAS contamination from the foam.
“There’s just hundreds if not thousands of opportunities out there for this to get into groundwater, and into people’s bodies,” he said.