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Michigan Food and Water Contamination May Be Causing Serious Injuries, Illnesses

For a state that prides itself on its beautiful waterways and natural resources, Michigan is the site of several major water and food contamination disasters.  At least five instances of serious chemical pollution are still causing public health problems to this day:


Toxic fluorocarbons originating from Grayling Army Airfield have likely moved off base to the surrounding groundwater.  Residential areas are being investigated with a focus on the safety of private well water.  Municipal water has been considered safe.  The popular Au Sable River is in the path of the suspected plume.  The chemicals involved were used in a fire-suppressing foam used to fight jet fuel fires on the base, and appear to be tied to thyroid, kidney, liver, and reproductive organ problems.

Ann Arbor

A slow-moving dioxane plume has been found in the groundwater of Ann Arbor and nearby Scio Township.  Dioxane is used in medical device manufacturing and is considered a probable human carcinogen.  The Huron River is downgradient of the plume.


Wolverine World Wide employed 3M Scotchgard, which contained PFAS and PFCs, to treat materials at its tannery north of Grand Rapids.   Wolverine dumped sludge at the now infamous House Street landfill in Plainfield Township on a daily basis, resulting in dangerously high contamination levels of flurochemicals.  The city of Rockford changed its municipal water supply about 18 years ago, but water consumed prior to that time or not supplied by the new aquifer are subject to risk contamination.


The Flint Water Crisis has been widely covered in the press and received major national attention, as it rightfully should.  The problem started when, in order to save costs, city officials including Emergency Manager Darnell Earley switched the city’s water source to the Flint River.  The water was not treated with anti-corrosive chemicals, which allowed lead to leach into the water supply.  Lead is known to cause developmental and learning problems, particularly in children, as well as a host of other physical ailments.  The state had been supplying residents with bottled water, but that program is ending.

St. Louis

In 1973, one of the worst industrial chemical accidents in US history occurred in St. Louis, Michigan, a small town about 40 minutes north of Lansing.  The Velsicol Chemical Corporation, which produced a fire suppressant known as PBB and the pesticide DDT, shipped some of its product to a livestock feed plant.  Consequently, people throughout the state were supplied with contaminated meat, diary, and poultry products.  St. Louis became one of the nation’s worst Superfund sites.  Contamination at the site itself was so bad, and perhaps worsened by a botched cleanup and containment attempt, that a judge took the unusual step of ordering a tombstone placed to warn people of the disaster well into the future.  Although the tombstone was recently relocated, health issues continue in the area to this day.

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