Lab in Holland is first in West Michigan to test water for PFAS

Posted at 9:42 PM, Apr 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 21:43:06-04

HOLLAND, Mich.-- When Trident Environmental learned about the high demand for PFAS testing in residential water, they got to work.

Lab Supervisor Lyle Rawlings commutes to work at Trident's laboratory in Holland every day from his home in Rockford, where worries of PFAS contamination are on a lot of people's minds.

“I’ve been seeing it kind of grow around me and it didn’t take me long for me to realize there was definitely a need," Rawlings tells FOX 17.

Rawlings helped implement PFAS testing at Trident, making it the first lab in West Michigan to provide this testing. Trident was already a toxicology lab, so he says it was the perfect fit.

“It’s exactly the same process, exactly the same instrumentation, so we use what we’ve got," Rawlings says.

The residential water test kits the lab uses cost $250,  significantly cheaper than a blood test that can cost over $500. It requires the user to run the faucet for five minutes, then fill two eight-ounce bottles with water and follow instructions on how to keep the water at a cool temperature during shipping. Users typically get results within days.

“Clinically, we have very short turn around times, typically 48 hours when a sample hits the door," says General Manager Lonnie Riley III.

Watch the video above to see how the testing process is done.

PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in things like shoes, furniture, carpeting, cookware, and other household items. They have been linked to cancer and other health problems. Rawlings says the makeup of PFAS are why they are so hard to break down, meaning its health effects can be especially problematic.

“Basically, they’re small chains that they’ve replaced the hydrogen with fluoride and the carbon-fluoride bond is one of the strongest bonds in nature," Rawlings says.

He says when a person or animal drinks water with PFAS, it can bioaccumulate.

“It can get into an organism and build up there over time," Rawlings says. "You’ve heard of fish in lakes that have shown PFAS, that’s just one example."

Rawlings anticipates the lab will see an increase of test orders as more people in West Michigan learn they may be exposed to these chemicals.

“We’ve seen what can happen with an industry where careless dumping is done. It makes you think how many other industries out there have done similar things," Rawlings says. “You know that somewhere out there, there’s more contamination sites. They just haven’t been found yet.”

Trident notifies customers of their results by letter. If high results are detected, it's a good idea to consult a doctor and look into a PFAS blood test.

For more on Trident's PFAS tests, click here.