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Default ?Q?It=E2=80=99s_literally_raining_PFAS_around_the _Great_Lakes?=?Q?=2C_say_researchers?=

Its literally raining PFAS around the Great Lakes, say researchers
By Garret Ellison, 6/8/21,

CLEVELAND, OH Rain that fell on Ohio this spring contained
a surprisingly high amount of toxic forever chemicals known
as PFAS, according to raw data from a binational Great Lakes
monitoring program that tracks airborne pollution.

Rainwater collected in Cleveland over two weeks in April
contained a combined concentration of about 1,000 parts-per-
trillion (ppt) of PFAS compounds. Thats acc. to scientists
at the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network (IADN), a
long-term Great Lakes monitoring program jointly funded by
the U.S. EPA & Canada.

The samples are part of a new IADN effort to analyze the
prevalence of PFAS in precip across the Great Lakes. The
network has other monitoring stations in Illinois, Michigan
& New York & the chemicals were detected there, too.

The prelim data is unpublished & undergoing quality reviews,
but researchers say early analysis shows PFAS chemicals to
be major contaminant in regional rain & snow.

You can actually say its raining PFAS at this point,
said Marta Venier, an enviro chemist at Indiana U, speaking
to reporters convened online by the Inst. for Journalism &
Natural Resources (IJNR) in May.

Since Aug 2020, IADN has been analyzing PFAS in rainwater
samples from 5 sites around the region where the IADN has,
since 1990, been testing for persistent organic pollutants
like PCBs, organochlorine pesticides & flame retardants.

The sites are located Cleveland, Chicago, Sturgeon Pt NY,
Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigans northern Lower Peninsula
& Eagle Harbor in the Upper Peninsula.

The team measured 38 different PFAS compounds in ambient
air & rainwater. The total concentration in most samples
ranged from 100 to about 400-ppt across the sites, with
higher counts at urban compared to rural or remote sites.

After nearly a years worth of sampling, Venier said
prelim analysis also shows PFAS concentrations are orders
of magnitude higher than other pollutants in the samples.

Many of the PFAS chemicals in the samples are so-called
short chain replacement compounds that have been favored
by manufacturers in recent years as an alternative to
earlier variations with longer chemical chains, such as
PFOS & PFOA, which were phased out under regulatory pressure
in the US but are still manufactured overseas.

The samples show significant quantities of 6:2, 8:2, &
10:2 FTCAs, or fluorotelomer carboxylic acids often used
in industrial settings or as grease-proofing agents on
food contact paper.

Its clearly reflective of the transition from long-chain
to short-chain, Venier told MLive. Those are fairly
abundant in these samples & those are also the ones that
we see a lot in consumer products.

Venier said people dont need to worry about becoming
stain-resistant after being out in the rain. The primary
concern is still exposure through ingestion or contact with
PFAS-coated products, but the contaminated precipitation
does, nonetheless, spread the robust chemicals around the
environment where they build-up in water bodies & wildlife.

Spread thru atmospheric deposition is also likely
contributing to a manmade background level of the
contaminants within the environment, she said.

They accumulate, she said. Once they are out there, they
really stay out there. All of this is to say its not an
immediate concern for a person, but it is a concern long-
term for the environment because they keep raining out.

The IADN research was previewed last month by grad student
Abby DeMeyer during the Int'l Assn for Great Lakes Research
(IAGLR) annual conference. DeMeyer said the team plans to
study seasonal trends in concentrations as their raw data
collection increases.

There is still much to be learned about long-range movement
of PFAS thru the atmosphere, but the IADN effort adds to a
growing body of research on the atmospheric movement &
deposition of the chemicals.

In April, researchers with the College of Wooster detected
17 different kinds of PFAS in the summer 2019 at 7 urban,
suburban & rural sample sites in Ohio & Indiana, with
total concentrations ranging from 50 to 850-ppt.

Similar research conducted primarily along the east coast
in 2019 by the U of Wisconsin-Madison-based National
Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) found lower
concentrations, mostly in the single-digit ppt range.

In N Carolina, state investigators traced GenX variations
of the chemistry in rainwater to Chemours chemical mfg
emission. The concentrations measured in 2018 reached 630-ppt
in some samples & prompted the state enviro agency lead
at the time by Michael Regan, now head of the EPA to
order emission reductions.

These findings lend weight to our belief that airborne
GenX contributes to contamination of private wells & lakes
near Chemours facility, Regan said at the time.

Abby Hendershott, director of the Michigan PFAS Action
Response Team (MPART) at the state Dept of Environment,
Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE), said the preliminary IADN
results seem pretty high based on what shes heard
about PFAS in rainwater.

Hendershott leads a regulatory program that investigates
PFAS sites in Michigan & collects data on the chemicals in
drinking water, soil, wastewater & other environment media.

Since the MPART program began in 2017, the state has
struggled at times to explain PFAS detections in some areas,
such as in groundwater wells upgradient from a known source,
or low-level concentrations in water bodies lacking an
obvious source for the contaminants.

We keep finding trace levels of PFAS around the state,
which says something about its ubiquitous nature & the fact
it must be able to travel thru the air, she said.

Tony Spaniola, a national PFAS activist & attorney who owns
a home near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda
MI, was surprised to see significant concentrations at
remote locations like Sleeping Bear Dunes & Eagle Harbor.

It isnt like theres a smokestack by Sleeping Bear Dunes,
said Spaniola. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at.
It has to come from some place. Spaniola, who works in
Troy, wonders about Detroit.

With all the industry around the Detroit area, particularly
Downriver, I bet the numbers there are huge, he said,
particularly around the Marathon oil refinery, where huge
amounts mystery foam later confirmed to be PFAS began
oozing from an old sewer pipe in 2018, causing a closure
of Schaefer Hwy.

Its everywhere, Spaniola said. Im not happy to say
that. Its not good news. But it underscores how ubiquitous
these chemicals are. They are everywhere.
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