Community leaders form new coalition to unify communities with PFAS contamination

Community leaders form new coalition to unify communities with PFAS contamination


LANSING – Leaders from communities impacted by Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) today held a virtual press conference to announce the launch of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, a new coalition led by impacted community members to create a unified voice for action on PFAS contamination. According to the state of Michigan, there are more than 11,000 potential PFAS sites in the state. PFAS chemicals have been detected in the drinking water of nearly 2 million Michiganders, and in every one of the Great Lakes.  

“PFAS contamination impacts people and communities across the entire Great Lakes region. It’s a growing crisis that requires urgent action, driven by those who know it best — the people who live with it and experience its consequences every day.” said Tony Spaniola, co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, Oscoda homeowner and PFAS expert. “Our mission is to harness the collective resources, perspectives and expertise in PFAS-impacted communities and to bring once-marginalized people in those communities to the forefront of action on PFAS.” 

The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network is a coalition centered and driven by people impacted by toxic pollution. During the virtual press conference, community leaders laid out best practices for government and polluters responsible for contamination in engaging with communities. The best practices can be found at  

“I have seen first hand how contamination with these toxic chemicals have affected my community. The Great Lake PFAS Action network will be a great opportunity for communities to stand together,” said Sandy Wynn-Stelt, co-chair of Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, resident of Belmont whose water was contaminated by PFAS from Wolverine World Wide. “By coming together, we can show government agencies and decision-makers the importance of accountability, shared understanding and mutual respect in addressing this crisis.” 

“I’m relieved and proud to stand by these other community leaders as we come together to ensure our federal and state leaders act now to clean up PFAS contamination in our water, land, air and wildlife and aid and care for the health of impacted victims of PFAS exposure – here in Michigan and the Great Lakes region,” said Cathy Wusterbarth, co-leader of Need Our Water (NOW), Oscoda. 

Over the coming months, the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network will continue growing the organization by recruiting additional community partners. It will also unveil a PFAS Action Agenda, which will include policy recommendations developed and led by impacted communities for addressing PFAS contamination in the Legislature.  

“I have been working on improving air quality in my community for many years, working to hold corporate polluters like AK Steel accountable for the pollution they emit into our air in Dearborn,” said Salah Ali, community leader from Dearborn. “As PFAS has impacted my community in Dearborn, we must find solutions to protect the health of our community and our water. I’m joining the PFAS Action Network to bring my perspective and work together to clean up this toxic contamination.”  

“My community in Ann Arbor has grappled with PFAS contamination stemming from the Huron River for years,” said Robb Kerr, community leader from Ann Arbor. “It is critical as we address this crisis that impacted communities have a seat at the table. Working together we are committed to working with local, state and federal leaders to ensure PFAS contamination is addressed with the urgency it deserves.” 

Information about the PFAS Action Network can be found at their website: The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network is actively recruiting additional community leaders. Those who are interested should visit this link and fill out the contact form.

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