The Stream, February 2: Drinking Water in Rockford, Michigan May Have Highest PFAS Levels in the U.S.

The Global Rundown

Test results show that Rockford, Michigan, may have the highest level of PFAS contamination in U.S. drinking water. Scientists find that coastal waters are absorbing an increasingly large amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Cape Town residents are asked to cut water consumption to 50 liters per person per day. Namibia reports its first cholera case just weeks after an outbreak killed dozens in neighboring Zambia. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reverses its decision to end food and water aid to Puerto Rico.

“This aid is not stopping. There was no, and is no, current plan to stop providing these commodities, as long as there continues to be an identified need for them.” –William Booher, a FEMA spokesman, in reference to an announcement earlier this week that the agency would stop providing food and water aid to hurricane-hit Puerto Rico. According to FEMA, its agents mistakenly said aid would stop on January 31, a statement which drew alarm from Puerto Rican leaders and criticism from U.S. lawmakers. The New York Times

In context: Puerto Ricans still desperate for water weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Latest WaterNews from Circle of Blue

Cape Town Outlines Plans for Emergency Water DistributionResidents will be allowed 25 liters (6.6 gallons) per person per day at 200 collection points.

By The Numbers

50 liters Amount of water that residents of Cape Town, South Africa, are encouraged to use per person, per day, as restrictions tighten in the lead-up to Day Zero. City officials have also notified residents of planned drops in water pressure. News24

58,930 parts per trillion Amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in drinking water in Rockford, Michigan. Toxicology experts believe these are the highest PFAS levels found anywhere in the United States. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is unsure why levels are so high, although the contamination is likely linked to chemicals used by shoe manufacturer Wolverine World Wide. MLive

In context: Congress passes defense bill that includes perfluorinated chemicals health study.

Science, Studies, And Reports

Oceanographers at the University of Delaware found that continental shelves are absorbing a larger-than-expected portion of atmospheric carbon dioxide. In total, the earth’s oceans are storing roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions coming from human activities, with an increasing amount being absorbed through coastal waters. Science Daily

On The Radar

A 10-year-old schoolboy in Namibia was diagnosed with cholera earlier this week, raising fears of an outbreak similar to the one in neighboring Zambia, which killed 78 people during the epidemic. The cholera case in Namibia comes three weeks after the country briefly banned all perishable food and water imports from Zambia. Reuters