Chemicals in elementary school water raises concern


Nick Garvale

Water out of a fountain

Nick Garvale, Reporter

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were found only in Robinson Elementary school last week in an annual test held by the Department of environmental quality. The concern, within the school district, is continuing work on the treatment of the water, with the school providing temporary bottled water to students and staff in the building.

“It’s their role to investigate and try and identify what those possible sources might be,” said superintendent Andrew Ingall. “They’re just going to methodically go through all those options and ideas they’re also testing a broader range to get an idea of how wide the contamination might be.”

According to, PFAS ‘are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe’. The initial test that the department executed found that the low number of 144 ppt (parts per trillion) of PFAS were found in the well water. The second test showing 171 ppt.

“There was no PFAS found in any of those other water systems,” Ingall said. “It’s not uncommon to have a slight variance in levels from test that tests because it’s such a microscopic test”

Although PFAS outbreaks are not too scarce to be somewhat extinct, this is a different scenario because all of the schools except Robinson Elementary are PFAS clear. The department is looking at this mainly because of the Well type two that Robinson Elementary uses. The rest of the district is on the Grand Haven City water supply which is filtered and treated a lot more careful than the well water. Click here for more information on the PFAS.

“All of the other schools in the district are totally fine,” said Ingall. “They’re going to work on the cause first, and then once they know the cause then we’ll be able to start assessing what the fixes there are.”