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Experts warn Michigan water worries could become new normal

West Michigan's industrial past combined with new water testing technologies have some warning that water concerns may become the new normal.

As various areas of Michigan deal with issues chemicals like dioxin, PFAs, and even lead in drinking water supplies, some are warning that more parts of West Michigan might begin to test positive for potentially toxic chemicals as testing technology and other factors evolve.

Michael Pinto, an environmental scientist, said the improvements made to testing technology have made it possible for to keep wide-range contamination testing within a cost-effective range for smaller municipalities and even average citizens.

“The science is getting much better in terms of us being able to determine things at a lower and lower level and at a cheaper and cheaper cost,” Pinto said. “We’re going to have more and more municipalities and even private wells and things like that where people are going to find stuff.”

He said the industrial past of West Michigan, consisting of paper manufacturing, is creating the perfect storm for potential problems for water worries and the potential toxins left behind.

“The paper mills being in Otsego for all of those years and the bleaching they did to all of that paper. That’s a chlorine process,” he said. “We know dioxins are produced as byproduct of chlorination of different types of products."

Allegan County Health Department Director Richard Tooker said social media is also playing a role in bringing more awareness, as well as more testing being done.

“His quick collection of gathering of people and information in a short period of time is a new phenomenon, I think it's a good thing," said Tooker.

Tooker referred to various social media groups created with people sharing health problems in certain areas.

"To have a greater awareness in a faster time frame for potential problems, it's a good thing for all of us," he said.

The Newschannel 3 I-Team has been taking a closer look at water problems and cancer cluster concerns since 2016.

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