New national PFAS task force has strong Michigan ties

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PFAS are in our water, our air and our ground. It's a group of man-made chemicals and it's making Americans ill.

"Right now we have families who have contaminated wells (they) can't drink," said Rep. Ben Ray Iujan D-New Mexico. "Before they knew about this contamination, they were drinking it.  Families are sick."

On Wednesday news from Washington DC the formation of a PFAS task force held a press conference. PFAS is often referred to as forever chemicals - they have been linked to cancer, birth defects and liver damage.

"It's not every issue that you see members of Congress from all parts of the county and both sides of the aisle come together to work on such an important issue," said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Michigan).

PFAS are used in a number of consumer products and have been around since the 1950s including in non-stick cookware and food wrappers.  But environmental experts didn't know a lot about the harmful effects until the early 2000s.

In 2018 the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a "do not eat the fish" advisory due to elevated levels of PFAS for all fish in the Huron River, a river that runs through five counties including Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne.

"I think we need to start thinking about environmental security the way we think about Homeland Security," said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan). It is about the safety and security of our kids and our way of life. If you can't give your child a glass of water without risk of them getting sick, if you can't fish the rivers that your grandfathers fished in, or eat the venison that forage around that river, that is a threat to your way of life."

The PFAS task force says it is dedicated to learning more about the problem and how best to deal with it. Members of Congress say what we know now about PFAS is just the tip of the iceberg.