Recent Events

PFAS in Pellston Fact Sheet

The following is information from the Pellston PFAS Town Hall Meeting on 2/13/2020.


What has happened?

A residential well near the Pellston Airport showed amounts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) above the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ (MDHHS) screening levels and the Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Energy’s (EGLE) drinking water criterion.

  • MDHHS public health screening levels are the amount of certain PFAS chemicals public health scientists use to help determine if further investigation is needed to protect people’s health. Amounts of a chemical found in drinking water below screening levels are not currently known or expected to cause health problems.
  • EGLE residential drinking water criterion is 70 ng/L for PFOA and PFOS combined for

regulatory actions. When PFOA and PFOS are above 70 ng/L (same as parts per trillion (ppt)) in drinking water, EGLE can require regulatory action such as further testing.

The well owner was provided with bottled water and a drinking water filter will be provided as a temporary measure to protect the residents’ health.

What are PFAS?

PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that are fire resistant, and repel oil, stains, grease, and water. They are used in fire-fighting foams, stain repellants, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing and shoes, and many other products.

PFAS move in the groundwater and can get into wells. They stay in the environment for a long time. They also can build up in people and animals. Most people in the United States have some PFAS in their blood because they are used in so many household products.

Why is there PFAS in the well’s water?

We are not certain why there are PFAS in the water. EGLE is working to learn more about where the PFAS came from.

What are the next steps?

EGLE will begin an environmental investigation, working with the Airport as it conducts testing to determine where PFAS is in groundwater in the area. Starting February 10, EGLE staff has visited homes near the airport and requested permission to collect a sample of water to test for PFAS. Sampling is scheduled to start Tuesday, February 18th.

The first water test results are expected about two weeks after the water is collected. Residents will be provided with their results, and recommendations on using their water based on those results.

These recommendations might include using a filter for your drinking water. If so, a free filter will be provided to you by the Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW).

The test results will determine further actions regarding the investigation, and whether water from additional homes need to be tested.

Your health and safety are of utmost importance. EGLE, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, and MDHHS are working to protect the health and safety of the residents.

How will you know if your well water should be tested?

EGLE will contact you if you live in an area where your water should be tested. The test will be provided to you at no cost. Residents can also fill out cards and request testing, and can get cards from the Village, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and HDNW.

Can PFAS harm your health?

Most people do not have health problems from PFAS. Having PFAS exposure or PFAS in your body does not mean you will have health problems now or in the future.

Some health studies in people who have been exposed to high amounts of PFAS have found health effects linked to some PFAS such as:

  • Decreased chance of a woman getting pregnant
  • Increased chance of high blood pressure in pregnant women
  • Increased chance of thyroid disease
  • Changed immune response
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Increased chance of cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancers

What if you live near the airport and you’re concerned about your well water?

At this time, we don’t have test results showing whether other wells in the area have PFAS. EGLE may ask for permission to test your water if you live in the investigation area. That is the only way to know if there is PFAS in your water.

If you’re concerned about your well water, you can use another source of water, such as bottled water for uses where you might swallow the water. This includes drinking, cooking, making baby formula or food, and rinsing fruits and vegetables. Touching the water is not a concern. You can bathe, shower, and clean with your well water.

Has water been tested at other locations in the area?

Yes. The water at Pellston Schools and the Pioneer Professional Building was tested. PFAS were not detected in the water in these buildings.

Where can you get more information?

Contact EGLE at 989-217-0083 or Health Department of Northwest Michigan at 231-547-7651.

  For additional information about PFAS, visit


Protection of Tribal Uses of Water: A Traditional Perspective on Manoomin

(Originally published in the Odawa Trails December 2015 issue)

On September 24, 2015 the Environmental Services Program hosted “Protection of Tribal Uses of Water: A Traditional Perspective on Manoomin” at Spirit (Wycamp) Lake. The goal of the event was to bring to light that certain tribal uses of water, such as growing manoomin (wild rice), are not protected under state or federal water quality regulations. The Water Quality Standards Workgroup aims to create and pass LTBB water quality legislation, which is imperative to the sustainment of these uses. The proposed legislation would protect for uses like manoomin areas, fishing, hunting, cultural/ceremonial, and swimming, as well as general water quality. Along with its own website, the Water Quality Standards Workgroup will survey LTBB citizens and give out promotional items. You can take the survey and check out the website at:

In addition to the Water Quality Standards Workgroup, which has a broader focus, there is also a Wild Rice Workgroup open to anyone who is interested. Contact Dawn Sineway-Nephler at 231-242-1487 or DNightlinger@LTBBODAWA-NSN.GOV for details. 

The September event was a huge success with 80 attendees, including many of the youth brought by the Youth Services Department. Guest speakers at the event were Dan Hinmon, Lee Sprague and Roger Labine. The first half of the listening session was devoted to a visit of the rice growing on Spirit Lake. A small stand of manoomin (approximately 0.13 acres) on the east basin of the lake had unfortunately been eaten after reaching a mature stage, most likely by ducks and geese. It became unsafe to visit the stand because of high winds, so Hinmon and Sprague used a canoe on land to demonstrate how to harvest wild rice using rice sticks and a push pole. Labine then began with a demonstration on parching rice, “dancing” on the rice, and winnowing. People were encouraged to try various steps of the traditional rice processing. Following the talks on traditional harvesting and processing, Kris Dey, LTBB NRD Fish and Wildlife Senior Research Technician, demonstrated the use of a modern way to dance and winnow, using a mechanical rice thresher. Along with Youth Conservation Corps Leader Lauren Dey, he spent roughly a week building a rice thresher, which is a machine that paddles the rice around a hopper and blows the chaff off and out of the machine. Also called the “Manoominator”, the rice thresher does the work of dancing and winnowing, making the process less labor-intensive. The rice thresher will be available for use in the future once LTBB rice is harvestable.

Before a dinner of manoomin dishes, Netawn Kiogima discussed the importance of water to the Odawa people and was joined by young women in the community for a water ceremony and prayer. Hinmon and Sprague gave a push pole demonstration on the lake later in the evening. After dinner, Daugherty “Duffy” Johnson III gave a presentation on the Water Quality Standards Workgroup, relating manoomin to the need for tribal water quality protections. The Water Quality Standards Workgroup and the event are products of the LTBB Water Quality Enhancement grant received from the Administration for Native Americans.

Chi-miigwech to the following: Kira Davis and the Water Quality Standards Workgroup members for getting the ball rolling; our speakers Dan Hinmon, Roger Labine, and Lee Sprague; Wasson Dillard for saying the opening prayer; Youth Services Department staff for bringing the youth; Doug Craven for transporting gear and keeping the fire; Kris and Lauren Dey for building the “Manoominator” and transporting watercraft; Education Department for providing paddles and lifejackets; Netawn Kiogima for leading the water ceremony; Tim Thomas for keeping the fire; the Wild Rice Workgroup for planning; and all who attended, gave input, brought food, and helped clean up.

Roger Labine (center) demonstrates rich parching (heating it up over a heat source).






Lee Sprague (standing with push-pole) mimics pushing Dan Hinmon (sitting in canoe) around a rice lake.







Wiigwaas Craven (center) learns how to parch rice with help from Fred Harrington.








Kris Dey gets ready to show off the “Manoominator.”













The inside of the “Manoominator” has paddles that push the rice around and loosen the
chaff. The result is rice that is ready to be picked clean and eaten.