water quality

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

As concern rises and detection methods improve, 1,4-Dioxane is being discovered in water sources across the country. Central to formulating remediation plans is determination of the safe level of exposure to this probable human carcinogen. What constitutes a true hazard as opposed to an “acceptable risk?”  Barbara Lucas goes in search of the answer in this 24th installment in our series on the Ann Arbor area’s 1.4 Dioxane Plume in “The Green Room.” 

City of Tucson

At a September work session, Ann Arbor City Council members asked city staff if the current water treatment plant could accommodate equipment to remove 1,4 dioxane,  just in case it becomes necessary in the future.  In this installment of 89.1 WEMU’s “The Green Room,” we look at what such a water treatment process looks like in action.

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor’s dioxane plume is rather unusual, in that it emanates from just one source. That source is the old Gelman Sciences facility on Wagner Road in Scio Township. Other area's of dioxane contamination around the country, such as  the KL Avenue Landfill in Kalamazoo, have many “Responsible Parties” contributing to the contamination problem. Even with a single source, assigning responsibility for clean-up remains complicated in Ann Arbor.  In this installment of "The Green Room"  we try to untangle the confusing web of who is who when it comes to liability. 

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

The cast of players involved with Ann Arbor’s dioxane problem has changed many times over in the thirty years since the contamination was first discovered.  Some say that’s part of the problem:  it’s hard to stay motivated to tackle problems that go on seemingly indefinitely. Luckily, there are a few people in the community who have stuck with it, keeping the issue in the public forum.  In this segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” we talk with one of them.

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

While the federal advisory level is 3.5 parts per billion, the amount of dioxane the State of Michigan allows in drinking water is 85 ppb, one of the highest standards in the country.  High levels mean less extensive remediation plans, a boon to industries responsible for the cleanups.  But, could the resulting water pollution negatively impact other businesses, and the local economy in general?  In this installment of  WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at various perspectives on this question.

In our previous 18-installments on the Ann Arbor area’s 1, 4 dioxane plume, we’ve heard from citizens, scientists, and government officials; both locally and from other dioxane sites around the country. Meanwhile, requests for interviews with the “Responsible Party”—Gelman Sciences, Pall Corporation or Danaher, are all met with silence.  In this episode of “The Green Room,” we learn, that wasn’t always the case. 

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Good communication between all parties involved is central to productive conflict resolution.  Some say it needs improving when it comes to dealing with Ann Arbor’s dioxane-contaminated groundwater. In this segment of our ongoing series, Barbara Lucas looks at the question:  “What part does communication play in how we move forward?”

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Environmental Protection Agency risk assessments indicate that the drinking water concentration representing a one in a 100,000 cancer risk level for 1,4-dioxane is 3.5 parts per billion, and for a one in a million cancer risk it is .35 ppb.  Only three states still have double-digit drinking water guidelines for dioxane:  New York, South Carolina, and Michigan.  Obviously, what is “safe” is subject to subject to interpretation, and is influenced by many variables.  But there is growing awareness that what is safe for you, may not be safe for your children or grandchildren. 

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

A plume of 1,4-dioxane has been spreading under Ann Arbor since the 1980s.  During this time, numerous homes on private wells have had dioxane in their drinking water before being hooked up to city water.  Is that the only source of dioxane to consider when weighing body burdens?  In the 15th of our series on 1,4-dioxane, Barbara Lucas looks at other ways people can be exposed to this chemical of emerging concern.

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Flint’s lead crisis has led to an increased concern about the dioxane plume in Ann Arbor’s groundwater.  In this 14th segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room” series on the Ann Arbor contamination plume, Barbara Lucas considers the dioxane content of bottled and tap water.

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

1,4-Dioxane is a suspected human carcinogen and a contaminant of “emerging concern” for the EPA.  It has been found in over a thousand public water supplies across the country, including thirty in Michigan.  Will those who’ve been exposed to Ann Arbor’s contaminated groundwater develop health issues?  It’s a question that may be of concern far beyond our borders, and the focus of our report in "The Green Room." 

the green room
Barbara Lucas - the Green Room / 89.1 WEMU

"Declare the Pall-Gelman 1, 4 dioxane plume a federal Superfund site."  That’s the message from the Sierra Club of Huron Valley.  The Sierra Club has passed a resolution urging the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County to seek Superfund designation from the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

Courtesy Image / https://www.epa.gov/

On June 14th a resolution was passed by the Scio Township Board of Trustees aimed at addressing the 1, 4 dioxane plume that has spread from the old Gelman Sciences facility on Wagner Road. It seeks Superfund designation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and City of Ann Arbor are considering similar resolutions.  A meeting is being arranged between all government entities involved, at the local, state and federal levels. Until that meeting takes place, there are many unknowns and much speculation.  In this week’s 'The Green Room' segment, we look at one perspective.

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

It’s been over three decades since Ann Arbor’s groundwater contamination was discovered, and throughout this time, citizen science and community advocacy have had a crucial role.  In this edition  of 'The Green Room,' Barbara Lucas looks at the uphill battle from its earliest steps.


The University of Michigan’s research in human and environmental health is of global import.  Should the university “think local” as well?  In this segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor area’s 1,4-dioxane contamination. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

For almost thirty years, a “responsible party” (Gelman Sciences, Inc.) has been legally and financially responsible for the 1, 4 dioxane contamination of  groundwater inthe Ann Arbor area.  This is in contrast to many contamination sites where cleanup falls totally on taxpayers. But the plume remains, and some question if enough resources are being devoted to its remediation.  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at money, and how it impacts Ann Arbor’s contamination problem. 

Roger Rayle / Scio Citizens for Safe Water

Local citizens and scientists have amassed large amounts of information on Ann Arbor’s 1,4-Dioxane plume. Locally sourced information has been invaluable since University of Michigan student Dan Bicknell first discovered the plume.  It has continued with 23 years of data collection by Roger Rayle of Scio Residents for Safe Water.  Has the information been put to good use?  Has it informed decision-makers?  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas continues her exploration of this ongoing issue. 

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

In the past two decades, Michigan’s dioxane standards have seen extremes, going from 3 to 85 parts per billion (ppb).  Now 7.2 ppb is being proposed by the MDEQ.  Other states' standards are all over the map.  The EPA’s current recommended levels for dioxane exposure vary greatly as well, depending on multiple factors.   In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at some reasons why it is so hard to come up with uniform guidelines for safe levels of dioxane.

Roger Rayle / Scio Residents for Safe Water

Since 1995, 4,000 prohibition zones have been put in place in Michigan to “manage risk,” i.e. prevent people from coming into contact with contaminated soil or water.  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at how the balance between cleaning up pollution versus managing the risk is playing out when it comes to the Ann Arbor area's 1.4 dioxane plume. 

Dr. Tom Bridgeman-University of Toledo / www.nature.org

The Lake Erie algae blooms in 2015  are already bigger than those in 2014. What has been done? What needs to be done? Will it get done? Find out in this month's edition of 89.1 WEMU's '1st Friday Focus on the Environment.' 

Commission's goal is to get more properties in the area certified.



As Concerns About the Pall/Gelman Plume Linger, Rep. Jeff Irwin Pushes House Bill to Require the MDEQ to Align Contaminate Clean-up Standards with EPA Standards

Pall Life Sciences is  leaving the Ann Arbor area this summer, prompting many to become concerned about the company's commitment to ongoing remediation of 1-4, Dioxane contamination. 

Water Quality Monitoring In Huron River Watershed

Feb 13, 2013

WEMU's Bob Eccles speaks with Watershed Planner Ric Lawson about results of the Huron River Watershed Council's 2012 water quality monitoring.