LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Directive (ED) to minimize the purchase of products containing PFAS by state government. She also hosted a roundtable with Oscoda residents impacted by toxic contaminants from the decommissioned Wurtsmith Air Force Base.
“PFAS are dangerous, man-made chemicals that pose a threat to our health,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I’m proud to sign an Executive Directive today that will require the State of Michigan to procure PFAS-free products whenever possible. While this is a good step, we still have so much more to do to address these forever chemicals. We need to lead with science and work together to keep families safe and ensure Michigan continues leading the nation when it comes to protecting people from toxic contaminants.”
“Protecting Michiganders from unnecessary exposure to PFAS chemicals and their risks is the foundation of our state response to find and addresses sources of PFAS contamination,” said Liesl Clark, Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “Governor Whitmer’s directive is a critical step towards accomplishing that mission by using the state’s purchasing power to move away from harmful products and toward smarter, safer alternatives. EGLE will continue finding ways to protect public health and our natural resources from PFAS and other toxic contaminants.” “It is critical that the products purchased by state government are safe for our residents and employees,” said Jared Ambrosier, Chief Procurement Officer for the Department of Technology Management and Budget. “Putting a priority on products that are free of PFAS when making purchasing decisions will reduce the amount of the dangerous chemical present in Michigan. DTMB is proud to be a national leader in this effort.”
“This is a ground-breaking and important action by Governor Whitmer on behalf of the people of Michigan,” said Tony Spaniola, Co-Chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network. “The Governor’s Executive Directive makes clear that forever chemicals have no place in our bodies or our environment. We urge businesses across Michigan to follow Governor Whitmer’s lead and remove PFAS from the products they sell, not just to state agencies, but to all Michiganders. And we call on the legislature to take immediate action to more broadly limit the sale of products containing PFAS.”
“We are capable of limiting our exposure to these toxic chemicals, and this directive sets important groundwork for substantial change,” said Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), whose district has personally been affected by PFAS contamination. “I’m grateful the governor is making this move, and I am committed to continuing the long and hard work necessary in the legislature to hold corporate polluters accountable and bring justice, safety and security to our residents.”
Executive Directive (ED) Actions
The ED will serve to limit the purchase of nonessential products that contain PFAS. The State of Michigan has $2.5 billion worth of purchasing power annually, and the ED directs the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB) to purchase PFAS-free products whenever possible. At the state-level, PFAS are primarily found in seating and office furniture, carpets, and sanitary supplies.
To view the full executive directive, click the link below:
Executive Directive 2021-08.pdf
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of over 4,000 man-made chemicals that have been used in several industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. PFAS have been used in non-stick cookware, fast food packaging, water-repellent jackets, stain-resistant carpets or furniture, cosmetics, and firefighting foams. PFAS are stable chemicals, breaking down slowly in the environment, such that they accumulate over time, and they also are highly soluble, easily transferring through soil to groundwater. As a result, they are persistent in the environment and in the human body. According to the CDC, over 95% of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies. While research is ongoing, there is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. People can be exposed to PFAS in a variety of ways, including working at locations where PFAS are produced or used in manufacturing, through the water they drink or the foods they eat, or when PFAS are released during normal use, biodegradation, or disposal of consumer products containing PFAS.
Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration Actions
Michigan’s proactive and transparent approach to PFAS contamination is widely recognized as a national model for action on PFAS. In 2019, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order (EO) 2019-3. This EO made the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) an established, enduring body and directed MPART to increase citizen engagement, transparency and accountability in the ongoing state efforts to identify PFAS contamination and protect public health.
Since MPART was established the team has sampled all public water supplies throughout Michigan, established some of the nation’s most comprehensive health based regulations limiting 7 PFAS chemicals in drinking water supplies, developed groundwater cleanup criteria for the same 7 PFAS, identified 189 sites to date where one or more of the 7 PFAS compounds exceed standards, removed 51,400 gallons of firefighting foam from Michigan’s fire stations and airport as part of a pickup and disposal program, and so much more.
In addition to MPART’s work, the state has made critical investments to protect our waters. The State of Michigan has invested more in its water infrastructure than the previous five years—from 2014 to 2018—combined. The governor launched the MI Clean Water plan to invest $700 million to build up drinking and wastewater infrastructure while supporting 10,000 good-paying jobs. The plan addresses tackles toxic contaminants like PFAS, high water rates, builds up sewer and septic systems that can’t meet demand, and replaces lead service lines. In addition to MI Clean Water plan, Michigan has invested millions to address PFAS contamination and improve water infrastructure across the state.
The governor also created the Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate to elevate the concerns of residents and investigate complaints related to drinking water and has partnered with Attorney General Nessel to hold PFAS polluters accountable for their contamination. While the State of Michigan has made significant progress on PFAS, additional action remains necessary to protect from the wide-ranging effects of PFAS contamination.