Michigan woman wonders if PFAS caused her family’s cancers
By Paula Gardner | MLive | December 5, 2019
Read full article by Paula Gardner (MLive)
“Tracy Breihof lives in Belmont, in a home she and her husband built in 1993. On a regular map, it looks like a pretty, secluded cul-de-sac. On a PFAS plume map that details contamination across that community north of Grand Rapids, the location seems to be in a safe zone of non-detection.
But Breihof remembers the sandy soil from when their well was dug. She’s learned that PFAS travels more quickly through that. And she wonders whether, over the years, the chemicals that now prompt the bright red signals of alarm at well after well just a half mile north once, too, were in her own drinking water.
She wonders if PFAS played a role in her husband’s death from kidney cancer. And if it contributed to her battle with thyroid cancer…
Her house was outside of the area’s original testing zone as the state and shoe manufacturer Wolverine World Wide confronted a contamination crisis that today spans 25 square miles in West Michigan. She paid for her own well test; later, WWW did one, too.
The results were low, less than 10 parts-per-trillion…
She remembers Tom, her husband, as super fit. A man who didn’t eat sugar and didn’t eat red meat. Who drank 80 ounces of water a day.
‘His doctors were stunned when he got sick,’ she said. The diagnosis came Jan. 22, 2016. He died Sept. 22 of that year, after what started out as a baseball-size mass on a kidney grew and then spread across his abdomen. Extensive surgery didn’t help him, not like 10 years earlier when her own thyroid surgery kept her alive.
‘Truthfully, it could be coincidental,’ she said. ‘But that doesn’t seem possible’…
Among her emotions is anger over what the PFAS contamination did to her community, and how it started with Wolverine.
‘I don’t know how you can live in this community and not be super angry.'”
This content provided by the PFAS Project.