PFAS detected in groundwater near Houghton County Airport

HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) – A PFAS investigation is underway at Houghton County Airport.

The Michigan PFAS Action and Response Team (MPART) conducted sampling that detected PFAS compounds in shallow groundwater near the airport. In response to this detection, representatives from the Western UP Health Department (WUPHD) participated in the sampling of residential drinking water wells within a one-mile radius of the airport. Twenty‐one residents gave access to sampling their water wells.

Per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals that are resistant to heat, water and oil. PFAS was historically used at the airport in fire fighting foams as required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). PFAS can enter drinking water when products containing them are used or spilled on the ground. Consumption of PFAS in drinking water may reduce fertility, increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase the risk of thyroid disease, and increase the risk of kidney and testicular cancers. PFAS can be removed from drinking water by installing a point-of-use water filter under the kitchen sink.

The purpose of sampling residential wells was to determine if any wells were impacted. Wells were sampled at no cost to residents. PFAS sampling results were recently received by WUPHD. A single trace unregulated PFAS component was detected in one of the twenty-one wells sampled. All other samples were undetected. Water wells in the area are generally about 200 feet deep in bedrock. A groundwater aquifer confined to bedrock generally provides protection from surface contamination, such as PFAS.

Currently, WUPHD would only be concerned if residents are drinking water from older shallow wells. WUPHD is looking for information on shallow crock-type water wells near the airport that are still in use for drinking water purposes. Additional sampling for PFAS may be conducted if shallow drinking water wells are identified. If your home has a potable water supply from a well and you live near the airport, please contact WUPHD at (906) 482‐7382.

For questions regarding the PFAS survey, please contact Amy Keranen, EGLE Site Manager, [email protected] or (906)337‐0389. Residents with health concerns should contact Amber Klase, MDHHS, [email protected] or (517)331‐1681. For more information on PFAS, visit

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