Michigan DEQ proposes tougher cleanup standards for drinking water

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is to bring in tougher cleanup standards for toxic chemical 1,4-Dioxane, which has seeped into the groundwater of Ann Arbor city.

In April, the new rule will change the 1,4-Dioxane drinking water standard in Michigan from 85 parts per billion (ppb) to 7.2 ppb.

Long-term exposure to this toxic chemical for can cause several health hazards, including cancer.

Around three square miles of the city's groundwater has been tainted with 1,4-Dioxane, which was released from the former Pall Gelman chemical facility.

Although the city depends on Huron River for its drinking water supply and not on groundwater, there are concerns that this chemical could eventually get into the river.

"This revised standard strengthens those protections for all Michiganders."

The well water at one of Scio Township's residents had greater levels of this toxic chemical than the new proposed standard, DEQ stated.

Well water from that home has been connected to the city's water supply.

DEQ director Keith Creagh said: "The DEQ's first priority is to protect public health. This revised standard strengthens those protections for all Michiganders.

"The DEQ is committed to open communications and transparency of our actions in affected communities. We will work with local stakeholders to ensure residents are informed and supported.

"The Ann Arbor community and its leaders have been great partners in addressing this issue, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on addressing the Pall-Gelman plume."

Calculation of the 1,4-Dioxane criteria is part of an initiative taken by the DEQ to update the criteria for 308 hazardous substances used to determine cleanup standards across Michigan.

The department missed the December 2015 deadline for releasing new standards for these chemicals.