MDHHS Warns: Huron River and Several Lakes Have PFAS Contamination
(MDHHS, June 2, 2020)
With the summer recreation season in full swing, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is issuing a reminder that everyone should avoid eating fish from the Huron River and several connected waterbodies, and avoid foam on Michigan lakes and rivers known to have per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water.
“MDHHS advises residents to continue following the ‘Do Not Eat’ fish and the ‘Avoid Foam’ advisories in place for the Huron River,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “Both advisories remain in effect until scientific evidence indicates that advisories are no longer necessary.”
The “Do not Eat” fish advisory is based on perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) fish data from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). In 2018, high PFOS levels were found in fish filets collected from Kent Lake, Base Line Lake and Argo Pond. Additionally, high PFOS surface water levels were found from Norton Creek downstream to Barton Pond.
In August 2018, MDHHS issued a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for fish from the Huron River where North Wixom Road crosses into Oakland County to the mouth of the Huron River as it enters Lake Erie in Wayne County.
The fish advisory includes:
Norton Creek (Oakland County – Lyon Twp)
Hubbell Pond, also known as Mill Pond (Oakland County – Millford)
Kent Lake (Oakland County – Millford and Lyon Twp.)
Ore Lake (Livingston County)
Strawberry & Zukey Lake (Livingston County)
Gallagher Lake (Livingston County)
Loon Lake (Livingston County)
Whitewood Lakes (Livingston County)
Base Line and Portage Lakes (Livingston/Washtenaw County line)
Barton Pond (Washtenaw County)
Geddes Pond (Washtenaw County)
Argo Pond (Washtenaw County)
Ford Lake (Washtenaw County)
Belleville Lake (Wayne County)
Flat Rock Impoundment (Wayne County)
Lake and River Foam Advisory
In September 2018, MDHHS issued an advisory for residents to avoid swallowing foam on the Huron River as it may have high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). While the state does not have data from Huron River foam, the advisory was issued as a precaution given the available Huron River surface water and fish data. Foam can have much higher amounts of PFAS than the waterbody it is found in. Swallowing foam with PFAS could be a risk to your health. PFAS do not move easily through the skin, but to best protect your health, MDHHS recommends everyone avoid Huron River foam and if you get it on you rinse it off as soon as possible.
Additionally, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recommends that people not allow their pets – especially dogs – to come into contact with or swallow the foam. When they groom or lick themselves, dogs can potentially swallow foam collected in their fur. They should be thoroughly rinsed off with fresh water after contact with foamy water.
Not all foam contains PFAS. There is naturally occurring foam that piles up in bays, eddies or river barriers such as dams. This foam is off-white and/or brown in color and may have an earthy or fishy smell. Naturally occurring foam can have high amounts of bacteria and it is best to rinse off after contact with it as well.
Can be bright white.
Is usually lightweight.
Can be sticky.
Tends to pile up like shaving cream.
Can blow onto the beach.
EGLE is continuing its environmental investigation into elevated PFAS in the Huron River.
More information about test results from the Huron River and current guidelines relating to PFAS fish contamination can be found at Michigan.gov/PFASresponse. For more information about the Eat Safe Fish guidelines, visit Michigan.gov/EatSafeFish.
Residents with health-related questions can call MDHHS at 800-648-6742. For questions about the environmental investigation, contact EGLE at 800-662-9278.