With cases of PFAS contamination slowly coming to light across the country, experts admit there is still much we don’t understand about the “forever chemicals.” Looking to fill in some of the blanks in the scientific research around PFAS chemicals, officials have announced a PFAS exposure assessment in Kent County. Here’s what residents should know about the upcoming assessment.
What is the PFAS Exposure Assessment?
Considered to be the first-of-its-kind, the PFAS exposure assessment in Kent County is a joint study between the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). The exposure assessment study seeks to determine what relationship exists between drinking water contaminated with PFAS and elevated levels of the chemicals in a person’s bloodstream.
Officials stress that the exposure assessment in Kent County is not a health study. The exposure assessment will not examine potential links to health issues and PFAS, however, the results of the exposure assessment could be used as valuable data in a future PFAS health study.
What Does the PFAS Exposure Assessment Involve?
According to reports, the exposure assessment will involve two phases. In the first phase, participants will take part in a 90-minute-long clinic visit at the Kent County Health Department. Participants will be asked a series of questions about their exposure. The first phase will also include a blood draw, so officials can test for elevated levels of PFAS.
The second phase of the exposure assessment consists of a two-hour in-home appointment where sanitarians will conduct testing of the residence’s water supply.
Who is Eligible for the PFAS Exposure Assessment?
Officials will be inviting around 800 Kent County residents into the exposure assessment. In order to qualify, residents must have lived in the affected residence since January 1, 2018 and have detectable levels of PFAS in the water supply. Some households with confirmed PFAS levels exceeding 70 parts-per-trillion (PPT) will be invited to participate. The MDHHS and KCHD have also confirmed they will be sampling some households that have detectable levels of PFAS below the 70 PPT threshold.
When Does the PFAS Exposure Assessment Begin?
Officials expect the exposure assessment to begin on December 8, 2018. The assessment is expected to continue through Spring 2019, with a full report detailing the results likely completed by late 2019 or early 2020.
How Do I Participate in the PFAS Exposure Assessment?
At the present time, there is no way to volunteer for the PFAS exposure assessment. Officials will be notifying residents of their eligibility to participate in the exposure assessment by mail. The first wave of invitations have already been sent, and officials are expected to continue inviting participants through next year.