PFAS testing for residential wells — while possible — isn’t easy or cheap

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning against consuming fish caught in the Huron River from Milford to Pinckney this weekend, and it includes all the river-fed lakes from Kent Lake to Portage. Fish from Kent Lake recently showed high levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), part of the PFAS group of contaminants that has been making the news lately.

PFAS and related chemical pollutants are residuals found in many industrial and consumer products including fire-retardant foams, fabric and carpet treatments, fabric waterproofing, and metal-plating operations. First brought to the attention of MDEQ in 2012, a task force was formed in 2017 by Gov. Rick Snyder, and MDEQ just began testing hundreds of water supplies in March 2018. Recently, communities in the Kalamazoo area have been under “do not drink” advisories because of PFAS contamination, and contamination has been widespread from tannery operations at Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford and Belmont.

The MDEQ testing includes municipal water supplies and school buildings that rely on wells for their drinking water. Since Michigan does not currently have the equipment to test for PFAS, homeowners wanting to test their own wells won’t find it easy, or cheap. According to a 2017 article from Mlive, homeowners should employ professional sample collectors, and can pay as much as $1,800 for an EPA-approved lab to test it. From the state website: “For details on residential well testing by the State of Michigan, you can contact the DEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278. The EPA has a list of laboratories approved under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule Round 3 program using EPA Method 537 for PFAS testing.

The Department of Defense Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program maintains a list of labs for PFAS testing in materials other than drinking water at

Each laboratory has their own fee schedule. The State of Michigan does not endorse these labs. Additionally, the capacity of any laboratories to provide services consistent with the DEQ recommendations has not been verified and these details should be addressed prior to contracting with any laboratory.”

More information, such as it is, can be found here. PFAS is not absorbed well through the skin, so swimming and handling fish and other aquatics is not harmful. Lakes under the “do not eat the fish” advisory include Hubbell Pond, Kent Lake, Strawberry Lake, Zukey Lake, Gallagher Lake, Loon Lake, Whitewood and Little Whitewood Lake, Baseline Lake and Portage Lake.




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Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary ( She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012, and as a trustee currently. She is enjoying empty-nesting in Pinckney with her husband, three cats and a few chickens.