STUDY: PFAS contamination flowing from Selfridge to metro Detroit water

Water near Selfridge tests positive for PFAS
Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 17:21:42-04

Tests performed by environmental regulators show contamination flowing from Selfridge Air National Guard Base into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

WXYZ-TV obtained Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sampling data through a public records request.

It shows five stormwater drainage outfalls around the Macomb County base tested positive in February for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.

MDEQ Clinton River PFAS Findings by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

The findings show Selfridge is a source for PFAS in the lake, a drinking water source for several communities. The base was among many to use a PFAS-laden foam for training and firefighting.


PFAS are man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products such as cosmetics, electronics and fast food wrappers since the 1950s.

Base officials say they are working to minimize the amount of PFAS compounds being discharged. That could include placing activated carbon filters at outfalls.

State officials say credible research shows the substances pose health risks.

Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Scott Dean says they are actively testing 1,380 waters systems in Michigan for PFAS, as well as 461 schools. 

He says the biggest concern is for people who use well water.  

“We recommend people you know that have private wells to be very diligent in testing their wells for any form of contaminate,” said Dean. 

Dean says there are 11,000 potential places in Michigan where PFAS containing materials could have been used or disposed of. That includes around 1,400 fire departments, 519 waste-water treatment plants, and 27 municipal airports. 

Exposure to PFAS

FPAS contamination may be in drinking water, food, indoor dust, some consumer products and workplaces, but the highest risk of exposure comes from drinking contaminated water and eating food that contains PFAS.

Products that may contain PFAS:

  • Food packaging materials
  • Nonstick cookware
  • Stain resistant carpet treatment
  • Water resistant clothing
  • Paints, varnishes and sealants
  • Firefighting foam
  • Some cosmetics

 PFAS impact on health

Although more research is needed to determine the full scope of the long-term effects of PFAS on people’s health, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, exposure in food and water may be harmful:

  • Affect growth, learning and behavior of infants and older children
  • Lower woman’s chances of getting pregnant
  • Interfere with the body’s natural hormones
  • Increase cholesterol levels
  • Affect the immune system
  • Increase risk of cancer

For more information on FPAS impact on your health, visit the Center For Disease Control and Prevention.