They Were Thinking Local—The Impact Was National

When residents of Rockford, Michigan began looking into the redevelopment of a famously stinky tannery, something was fishy.

When officials reported no known contamination at the shuttered factory, they demanded a deeper investigation. When they didn’t get one, they launched their own—and uncovered some of the highest levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in US drinking water.

Hundreds of lawsuits have since been filed elsewhere against companies linked to PFAS.

The main takeaway: "When you look hard … you're going to start finding (PFASs) showing up everywhere," says Erik Olson, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Science

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