Environmental Health

Emerging Issues


Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made chemicals that are fire resistant, and repel oil, stain, grease, and water and have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950's. PFAS are used in fire-fighting foams, nonstick cookware, fast food wrappers, some cosmetics and cleaning products, as well as in industry and manufacturing.

  • PFAS do not occur naturally, but are widespread in the environment.
  • PFAS are found in people, wildlife and fish all over the world.
  • Some PFAS can stay in people's bodies a long time.
  • Some PFAS do not break down easily in the environment.
PFAS Action Response Team (MPART)

For information on health effects, specific site investigations, and testing, go to the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and Environment's (EGLE) PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) website.

Vapor Intrusion

Vapor intrusion sometimes occurs where chemicals were spilled, leaked, or dumped and not cleaned up. For example, properties such as gas stations, dry cleaners, or businesses operating metal parts degreasers use chemicals like gasoline or solvents that can cause vapor intrusion. If these chemicals are mishandled and get into the ground, they can move through the soil and groundwater. Although the chemicals are often released as liquid, they easily evaporate, becoming a vapor in the air that you often cannot see or smell. At some point, the vapors may come in contact with your home or business - usually around your basement or your floor. These vapors may get into your home through openings such as cracks, or other openings around pipes and sumps. This is a concern because you may breathe in these harmful vapors without knowing.


Legionella is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment that grows best in warm water, such as hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, drinkable water systems, and decorative fountains. When people are exposed to the bacteria, it can cause Legionnaires' Disease, a respiratory disease that can infect the lungs and cause pneumonia. For more information, please follow the links below.