Target 8 investigation leads to health advisory on Thornapple River

Toxic Tap Water
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CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Target 8 discovery of suspicious foam on the Thornapple River in Cascade Township has led to a health advisory;

The state said tests found high levels of PFAS, a likely carcinogen, in foam on the river, just below the Cascade Dam.

Target 8 first noticed the foam in spring, taking photographs showing it piled up high along a bank of the river, below the dam.

In response to that photograph, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality sent a crew on June 6, led there by Target 8 investigators.

Those test results came back Friday, showing 317 parts per trillion of total PFAS in the foam. That’s more than six times the limit of 70 ppt for drinking water.

The results led the Kent County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue the health advisory, warning that ingesting the foam could pose a human health risk.

However, the agencies said “current science suggests PFAS” doesn’t easily soak into skin and wouldn’t pose a risk from contact with the foam.

The foam is downstream from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, where a Target 8 investigation earlier this year led to testing for PFAS from decades of using firefighting foam.

Tests have found PFAS in groundwater at the airport, which is leading to testing of wells at nearby homes, airport officials have said. 

>>Inside Complete coverage of the toxic tap water investigation

Already, private tests already have found PFAS in 15 wells in the area, all below the 70 ppt limit.

The PFAS levels on the Thornapple River were not nearly as high as what the state found in foam on the Rogue River, near Wolverine Worldwide’s old tannery in Rockford. That hit 300,000 ppt, leading to a similar health advisory for the Rogue.

Wolverine used Scotchgard, with PFAS, for decades at the tannery to treat shoes.

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