MiPEHS, a Study of PFAS Effects on Health, Gets Underway

Wolverine CAG Member Blog Post

The opinions expressed in the following blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wolverine Community Advisory Group.

by Tammy Bergstrom

The Wolverine Community Advisory Group (CAG) continues to meet monthly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings (via Zoom) are open to the public and include updates on various activities stemming from the PFAS contamination in Rockford and Belmont.

At a recent meeting, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services toxicologist Joost van ‘t Erve provided an overview of the upcoming Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS), which is now underway.

“The study is designed to look at health effects related to PFAS and includes testing to see if there’s a relationship between blood levels of PFAS and certain diseases,” said van ‘t Erve.

The study will be ongoing through 2026. Participants will complete an online health survey and provide blood samples three times over the course of the study. Van ‘t Erve noted that the study is voluntary and participants can join at any time throughout the study.

Van ‘t Erve stated that  roughly 1,800 households from the northern Kent County area, whose water was previously sampled by or at the direction of a state agency, will be directly contacted to participate; letters are now being mailed to eligible households. The research team will continue to recruit participants until the optimal number of people is reached.

In order to be eligible for the study, residents must have had their wells previously tested by a state agency for PFAS and have used that water within the last 15 years. Their well is not required to have contained a detectable level of PFAS in order for the resident to be eligible for the study, but rather, their well just needs to have been tested for PFAS prior.

“You need to have lived there and used the water after 2005,” van ‘t Erve explained.

MiPEHS will also include residents in the Parchment and Cooper Township area in southwest Michigan. Although residents of the City of Rockford, and other areas with municipal water, are not eligible to be part of MiPEHS, van ‘t Erve noted the possibility of a future study of newborn blood spots from people born since 1987. These samples would be related to the level of PFAS in the mother’s blood at the time of birth. MiPEHS is laying the groundwork research for using these sample in the future to address public health questions. Study participants will be asked to provide access to their newborn bloodspot as part of enrolling in MiPEHS.

More information about the Wolverine CAG including upcoming meetings can be found at https://wolverinecag.org/ and blog posts from other members can be found here.

More information about the Michigan PFAS Exposure and Health Study (MiPEHS) can be found at the new website launched by the MDHHS.