Couple believe son’s death, their health issues result of high PFAS in drinking water
By Ben Solis | MLive | April 2, 2019
Read the full article by Ben Solis
"After more than a decade of drinking water that recently was determined to have high levels of PFAS and related compounds, Steven and Patsy Lamb believe the ‘forever chemicals’ were behind the untimely death of their son and their own health problems.
The couple own one of seven homes in Norton Shores near the Muskegon County Airport that were in 2018 and early 2019 found to have high levels of PFAS, including two compounds known as PFOS and PFOA, in their drinking water pulled from underground wells.
Steven Lamb was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016. Both he and Patsy have reported cases of high cholesterol, and their son, Jason Lamb, 41, died unexpectedly in spring 2018 of a heart attack. They believe all of those health ailments came from ingesting water tainted with high levels of PFAS.
PFAS — per and polyfluoroalklyl substances — have shown up in drinking water systems across the state and are linked to certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, hypertension in pregnancy, thyroid disease and other health problems. The primary route of exposure is ingestion.
‘We think we got hurt a bit,’ Steven Lamb said in an interview with MLive/Muskegon Chronicle. ‘But there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re not even thinking about lawsuits. We don’t feel like it’s warranted.’
However, the couple did have one clear demand from city and county leaders.
‘Hook us up to city water so we can sell the place and move on,’ Steven Lamb said. ‘That was our main concern.’
Now, after months of pressure, the Lambs may be getting what they hoped for as Muskegon County and the city of Norton Shores are working to connect six of the seven homes to city water.
Muskegon County Administrator Mark Eisenbarth and Norton Shores City Manager Mark Meyers are hoping to secure a portion of $4 million in emergency grant funding set aside by state legislators and former Gov. Rick Snyder for drinking water contamination remediation.
Even if they don’t get the grant that requires a 20 percent local match, Eisenbarth said the county will make sure the six homes are connected to the Norton Shores water system. The project is expected to cost a little more than $112,000, according to a project plan provided to the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners on Thursday, March 21.
For the Lambs, the project can’t start soon enough. The couple anticipated some sort of action from the county, and took it upon themselves over the last few months to ready their indoor plumbing for a connection to city water.
‘They still have things to figure out, so all we can do is wait,’ Steven Lamb said. ‘We have a buyer who’s interested and now that we’ll have city water, we can move on.’
Patsy Lamb said they lived in the home in the 500 block of Porter Road where they raised their children from the early 1980s until the mid-1990s. Jason Lamb became the Porter Road home’s sole occupant until the time of his death, Patsy said.
Steven Lamb said the home previously belonged to his grandmother.
The couple currently live on Heinicke Street in a home that is connected to city water.
An ongoing investigation by the county and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality determined that the Norton Shores Fire Department had previously used a location on Porter Road to conduct training exercises using AFFF firefighting foam, which contained PFAS.
Now the Lambs wonder how long they were ingesting the PFAS and other chemicals they believe had a role in their health issues and the death of their son.
‘It’s been really hard to accept his death,’ Patsy Lamb said. ‘No one knew, but I feel guilty. I feel like as a mother, I should have known.’
The Lambs and others affected by PFAS begged Muskegon County officials to fast track water main connections for their homes.
County officials planned to wait for more data before deciding to hook homes to municipal water. But Eisenbarth said county officials changed their minds once they heard the residents’ concerns at a February public meeting to discuss the PFAS contamination…"
This content provided by the PFAS Project.