Parchment PFAS: Where did it come from?

Toxic Tap Water

PARCHMENT, Mich. (WOOD) — There are many potential sources of the likely carcinogen PFAS, from firefighting foam to waterproof clothing. 

Mark DuCharme, an incident management specialist with the Department of Environmental Quality, says that is why it may take time to pinpoint an exact cause of the high levels of PFAS found in Parchment’s city water.

“At this point, we don’t have any confirmed location,” he said. “One of the things we’re looking at right now is where might PFAS compounds have been used or made within a regionally close area.”  

Parchment is home to old paper mills that have been shut down and abandoned for years.  Several fires tore through some of the old buildings. 

“And then one of the locations we’re looking at here is that PFAS was also used in paper manufacturing in certain situations,” DuCharme explained. “Those were things for oil proofing papers and putting different coatings on, and so that’s one of the potentials we looked at when we looked at our records, we said, ‘There’s a history of papermaking in Parchment.’”

But Ducharme says it’s too soon to start pointing fingers. 

“We’re not saying that’s the source,” he added. “We’re just saying the records indicate that PFAS were potentially used there.”

DuCharme says the paper mills weren’t just making paper; they were producing trash as well.

“One of the… paper industries here in town operated a couple of landfills where they used those facilities to dispose of paper waste over the years,” he explained.

DuCharme says it’s too soon to provide a timeline about when his study may be finished.

“We’re working as fast as we can to put a plan in action,” he said. “So right now, we’re trying to do this in a well thought out, systematic and swift approach.”

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