ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — State officials are investigating elevated levels of PFAS in the water at Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ Robinson Elementary.
Tests at the school on 120th Avenue north of Lake Michigan Drive in Robinson Township found the chemical at 144 parts per trillion, according to the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. That’s about double what’s considered safe for consumption.
The district says it was notified of the test results by the Michigan Department of Quality on Monday, at which point it switched students and staff to bottled water. A letter was sent to parents explaining the situation.
>>Online: Letter to parents
Autumn Zahir was picking up her preschooler when she heard the news. Her daughter was told she could no longer sip from the school’s drinking fountains.
“She said that they gave them water bottles to drink from, but I don’t know how long this has been going on, but it’s concerning, for sure,” Zahir said.
The DEQ is retesting the water to confirm the findings and the new results should come in Wednesday.
“Once we receive those results back, depending on whether or not the levels were confirmed, we’ll work with state and local health officials to move forward on a plan on how we can do further testing and ensure that the children and the residents in our county are drinking safe water,” Kristina Wieghmink from the county health department said.
The source of the PFAS — a likely carcinogen that has also been linked to other illnesses including ulcerative colitis, thyroid problems, hypertension in pregnancy and high cholesterol — has not yet been determined.
“School is open; school is safe,” GHAPS Superintendent Andrew Ingall said. “We’re continuing forward. We can provide a great learning environment. Everybody has worked really hard to make sure student learning isn’t interrupted.”
Ingall said parents are welcome to keep their children home from school for the time being. Anyone with questions can contact him at 616.850.5000.
All the water used elsewhere in the district comes from the Northwest Ottawa Water System, which has been tested and not found to contain high levels of PFAS.