FLINT — Genesee County House Democrats recently held a town hall to discuss the threats posed by PFAS and the steps residents could take to protect themselves.
State Rep. John Cherry (D-Flint), who hosted the event, was joined by special guests state Reps. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint), Sheryl Kennedy (D-Davison), Tim Sneller (D-Burton), and officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Genesee County Health Department to answer questions and discuss the state’s response to the ongoing crisis.
“Providing accurate and actionable information to the public about PFAS is vital to mitigating the harm it can cause,” said Rep. Cherry. “While we continue to push for comprehensive, long-term solutions to remove PFAS from our drinking water, I want to make sure our communities know the steps we are taking to protect Michigan families’ safety and wellbeing. This was just the first of many conversations I hope to have with residents as we work with state and local officials to bring this crisis to an end.”
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are a group of manmade chemicals commonly found in polishes, waxes, paints and cleaning products. Many firefighting foams include PFAS chemicals, leaving heightened levels of contamination near airports where firefighter training takes place.
“The crisis of confidence in Flint is far from over, and as we continue the work to repair the damage done to the people here we are faced with a new and equally insidious adversary,” Neeley said. “Town halls and community discussions are some of the tools we need to address the remaining issues, and valid distrust residents of the city have in their government. We need to inform them of the dangers and listen to their concerns so we can craft meaningful and complete solutions.”
Water testing in Genesee County has found a number of sites contaminated with PFAS including areas around Bishop International Airport, the former Buick City factory, and the Coldwater and Richfield landfills. PFAS is particularly dangerous due to its persistence in the environment, as well as potential health effects.
“It is important to have these discussions, so Michiganders are aware of the dangers these chemicals present,” said Rep. Sneller. “It is also important they know that my colleagues and I will not rest until this crisis is addressed. The Legislature needs to break from its harmful pattern of inaction and take immediate steps to protect our communities.”
“One of our highest priorities as a state is to ensure that the hardworking families of Michigan can trust the safety of the water coming out of their taps,” said Rep. Kennedy. “We can no longer afford to stand idle in the face of these dangers; now is the time for us to take serious action.” — G.G.