High PFAS levels found in Parchment water; residents advised to stop drinking

Posted at 8:58 PM, Jul 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 21:00:18-04

PARCHMENT, Mich. -- Kalamazoo County officials are advising residents of Parchment and parts of Cooper Township to stop using the city's water supply after high amounts of PFAS were found.

The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department issued the advisory Thursday evening, saying any residents on the city of Parchment's water supply system should "immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula and food, or rinsing fruits and vegetables."

Eric Oswald, Director of the Drinking Water Municipalities Division for the state Department of Environmental Quality, says the PFAS amounts for Parchment water were around 1,300 parts per trillion.  The state threshold for drinking water is 70 parts per trillion.

PFAS is a man-made chemical believed to cause numerous health problems including thyroid and reproductive issues and various types of cancer.  It has been detected in recent months in some water supplies in Kent, Montcalm and Van Buren counties.

Bottled water will be provided to affected Parchment and Cooper Township residents starting Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Parchment High School, 1916 E. G Ave., officials said.

Boiling water and using common residential filters do not remove or treat PFAS.  Swallowing it is the primary way it gets into the body. Touching water contaminated with PFAS is not considered a health concern.

County officials say in a release that in the next 24 to 48 hours Parchment's water supply is being drained and that the city of Kalamazoo's water supply will be connected to begin flushing its supply system.

"The City of Kalamazoo will continue flushing out the City of Parchment’s water supply system until test results come back that shows the PFAS levels are below the health advisory level," the release says.

Officials say they do not know how long that process will take.

Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday evening that he has directed state agencies to assist Parchment and Cooper Township.  His office says in a release that the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to assist local operations as needed.

"Our first priority is the health of residents in the Parchment and Cooper Township area and to ensure they have access to safe drinking water, a plan for which is already being executed by local agencies with state assistance," a statement from Snyder reads. "Our next step is to work as a team to address the source of this contamination and restore the municipal water system."

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says residents seeking more information can call 269-567-7595 or 269-567-2517.  More information on PFAS is available here.