Pain, cancer, death: Michigan families devastated by toxic chemicals in their water

Pain, cancer, death: Michigan families devastated by toxic chemicals in their water

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: January 10, 2020 SNIP: In the years before 2017, Sandy Wynn-Stelt and her husband had suspicions about the water they drew from a well on their House Street property in the Michigan town of Belmont. She attributed the bad taste to it being well water, but the “weird film” on their morning coffee was difficult to explain. By June 2017, state officials alerted her that PFAS from a nearby, decades-old dump belonging to Wolverine World Wide, a shoe giant best known for the Hush Puppy brand, had contaminated their well. Tests found shocking levels. The Environmental Protection Agency’s PFAS advisory water limit is 70 parts per trillion (ppt). Health officials found levels in the well as high as 90,000 ppt. Wynn-Stelt told the Guardian she now suspects the PFAS-laden product Wolverine uses to make its shoes water and stain resistant was behind that weird film. “I now know it was probably Scotchgard,” she said. Wynn-Stelt and her neighbors in this small west Michigan community are among the PFAS crisis’s human toll – those suffering the horrors that await humans with too much of the toxic chemical in their bodies. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 5,000 fluorinated compounds dubbed “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down and there’s no known way to destroy them. They’re found in everything from food packaging to clothing to eyeliner to firefighting foam. The chemicals are also strongly linked to cancer, low birth weight, autoimmune disorders, thyroid issues, and a range of other serious diseases. By the time Wynn-Stelt learned of the contamination, it...