Washtenaw County legislators are pushing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to align their state standard of dioxane testing to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard, which is far stricter.
The representatives have confirmed that the DEQ will announce new, more robust standards for dioxane levels as well as a plan for clean-up by Pall Corporation, the company that caused the dioxane spill in Scio Township, at an April 18 legislative town hall.
“A basic human right such as clean drinking water should not be an issue in 2016, and yet we see instances in Flint and now near Ann Arbor that makes us question that thought. I have to question what took the DEQ so long to protect families from this carcinogenic crisis,” state Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) said. “We’ve seen that the DEQ needs stricter standards so human life in Michigan is given full priority, and I hope the DEQ stays true to their word.”
According to MLive, records show dioxane levels at 50 parts per billion (ppb) in 2005, gradually going down to 17 ppb in recent months. That’s below the DEQ’s allowable standard of 85 ppb. However, the EPA stated in 2010 that dioxane levels at only 3.5 ppb in drinking water poses a 1 in 100,000 cancer risk. Exposure to high dioxane levels can also cause respiratory problems and kidney and liver damage.
The group also plans to hold committee hearings in the House to discuss this possible legislation should the DEQ fail to meet their self-imposed deadline.
“If the DEQ’s standards were at the level we’re proposing, the high level of dioxane in the water of my constituents in Scio Township would have been caught and addressed years ago. That it went undetected for so long is unacceptable,” said state Rep. Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline). “We need to make sure we have standards in place so there is accountability and so we can ensure all Michigan families have access to safe drinking water.”