Elizabeth Fedorchuk's Profile

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Communications Director, nature lover, mother of young adults, public media fan, science & music nerd, proud MSU alumna. Did I mention my dog?

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  • MEC praises $10 million for Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund

    Today Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s second executive budget was released. It included $10 million for a new Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to protect Michigan families from lead in their homes. Michigan Environmental Council released the following statement in support of this funding recommendation:

    “We applaud Governor Whitmer’s creative proposal to invest $10 million to unlock private capital and get low interest loans in the hands of residents who simply can't afford the high cost of making their home lead safe,” said Tina Reynolds, Michigan Environmental Council Program Director for Environmental Health.

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  • published MEC applauds 100% renewable energy bills in News 2020-02-07 14:32:04 -0500

    MEC applauds 100% renewable energy bills

    Legislation introduced today by Representative Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) and Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) would set a 100% renewable energy standard by 2050 for Michigan, requiring utilities to get 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2050. Achieving 100% renewable energy is a critical and necessary step to curb toxic air and water pollution and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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  • published Careers in ABOUT 2020-02-06 10:50:33 -0500

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  • published PFAS in Michigan in Clean Water 2020-01-10 14:29:35 -0500

    PFAS in Michigan

    Unfortunately, this storyline is getting all too familiar: There’s a chemical of concern that poses a public health risk. Industries have widely used this chemical for decades, but its health impacts are not well studied, and the potential harmful properties of this chemical have been suppressed by the manufacturer. The class of chemicals this time: PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. According to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) more than 1.5 million residents have been drinking water contaminated with PFAS and there could be as many as 11,300 potential sites where PFAS may have been used.

    How did PFAS get here?

    PFAS are a family of more than 3,000 manufactured chemicals that were put into production in the 1950s. The unique chemical properties of PFAS allowed manufacturers to create waterproof, stain resistant, and non-stick products. PFAS have been used in practically everything, including carpeting, waterproof clothing, food paper wrappings, upholstery, takeout containers, furniture, some cosmetics and more. They were also used in a firefighting foam called AFFF, which branches of the armed forces and fire departments used all across the country. Some forms of PFAS have been phased out of use, but many others are still used widely in commercial products and manufacturing processes today.

    How do PFAS impact our health?

    There are a number of ways a person can come in contact with PFAS, but the most common way is through drinking water. So far, researchers have only studied a handful of these chemicals for their health implications. However, preliminary research suggests that PFAS is highly toxic to humans and that some forms of it bioaccumulates in our bodies. It may increase thyroid disease, decrease fertility in women, cause developmental issues in infants and older children, and increase blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They have also been linked to increased risks of kidney and testicular cancer.

    Currently, the EPA’s recommended lifetime health advisory limit is set at 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS (the two best-studied PFAS compounds). However, a health advisory limit is non-enforceable, meaning that drinking water system operators are not required to adhere to this recommendation. What's more, research has demonstrated that 70 ppt is far too high to be protective of human health and the environment.

    What are PFAS drinking water standards?

    A drinking water standard is an enforceable limit on the amounts of certain chemicals that can be present in public water systems. The chemical standards or limits are intended to protect the public from negative health impacts of exposure to toxic chemicals via drinking water. 

    In the absence of federal progress, Governor Whitmer and her administration have moved rapidly to ensure that Michigan residents are better protected from exposure to harmful levels of PFAS by directing EGLE to set drinking water standards for PFAS chemicals. 

    The state is considering limits for the following PFAS chemicals:

    • PFNA (6-parts per trillion)
    • PFOA (8-parts per trillion)
    • PFOS (16-parts per trillion)
    • PFHxS (51-parts per trillion)
    • GenX (370-parts per trillion)
    • PFBS (420-parts per trillion)
    • PFHxA (400,000-parts per trillion)

    How can the standard be strengthened? 

    Setting science-based drinking water standards is a critical and necessary step in the right direction. There are also changes to the rules that EGLE should make in order to further strengthen them.

    Michigan Environmental Council recommends these policy solutions to ensure the standards fully protect human health and the environment against PFAS:

    • Set a cumulative standard. In addition to setting numeric standards for individual compounds of PFAS, the state should set a cumulative limit. A cumulative limit would better protect the public against additive or synergistic effects from exposure to multiple PFAS chemicals. It would also create a level of protection for residents exposed to PFAS chemicals that are not included in the seven slated for a drinking water standard. 

    • Require a health review in two years.  The state is moving forward with setting drinking water standards for seven PFAS compounds. While a step in the right direction, that approach leaves thousands of PFAS compounds unregulated. The science on the risk and toxicity of PFAS chemicals is rapidly developing; standards set today could be quickly out of date as new research on toxicity comes in. To ensure Michigan remains ahead of the curve and maintains science-based standards that are protective of public health, the state should conduct a health review two years after the PFAS drinking water standards go into effect. This requirement should be written into the PFAS drinking water rules. 

    • Conduct at least three years of quarterly sampling.  We do not know enough about how PFAS moves in the environment or if there are seasonal changes to discharges of PFAS to be able to set reduced sampling frequencies. The current rule requires some quarterly sampling, but also allows water plants to potentially reduce to sampling every six months or only once a year. At a minimum, given the unknowns, all water systems should test quarterly for three years. That will give the state a solid baseline of knowledge to know when PFAS may or may not spike and which supplies are most at risk of exposure. From there the state can better establish a reduced sampling frequency process.  


  • published Recommendation looms for DTE Energy plan in News 2019-12-19 13:46:20 -0500

    Recommendation looms for DTE Energy plan that advocates and the public have called to reject

    Advocates from across Michigan have been calling on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE Energy’s long-term energy plan as the the case surrounding the plan comes to a close. On Friday, the judge overseeing the case will share her reading of the case and propose a recommendation to the Michigan Public Service Commission, which will give the final ruling early next year. 

    To date, more than 3,300 Michigan residents have submitted public comments and over 150 people attended the public hearing in June, the vast majority urging the Commission to reject DTE’s plan. 

    In addition, various health, environmental, conservation and clean energy advocates have also worked to raise awareness of the shortcomings of DTE’s plan and mobilized customers to make their voices heard.

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  • Thank you to our 2018 Awards Celebration sponsors!

    Michigan Environmental Council’s 20th Annual Environmental Awards Celebration is made possible by these generous sponsors.

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  • Water researcher Joan Rose, Upper Peninsula advocate Nancy Warren earn top environmental awards

    Michigan Environmental Council to honor pair June 14 in Ypsilanti

    Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) next week will honor two outstanding leaders for Michigan's public health, waters and wildlife.

    Joan Rose -- a Michigan State University microbiologist who has devoted her career to improving water quality, trekking across Michigan, the U.S., and the world to investigate and raise awareness of waterborne disease outbreaks and develop preventions -- will receive the Helen & William Milliken Distinguished Service Award.

    Nancy Warren -- an advocate who has worked tirelessly, voluntarily, and at personal sacrifice over the past 25 years to preserve special features of the Upper Peninsula -- will receive the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership.

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