URC Roundtable Tour: Tackling Health Threats to Michigan Communities

Detroit: Flooding & Infrastructure
Grand Rapids: PFAS
Traverse City: Microplastics & Water Quality

Tackling Emerging Environmental Health ThreatsReleased in conjunction with the new URC issue brief, Tackling Environmental Health Threats, this three-stop tour focuses on ways URC institutions work to understand and mitigate environmental impacts on human health. 

As the Great Lakes State, Michigan is endowed with incredible assets that elevate the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. But these benefits are not universal. For many communities, flooding and inadequate water infrastructure threaten public health. During each roundtable discussion event, attendees discuss the complex issues Michigan communities face. 

Researchers engage with communities facing health threats ranging from disease to environmental issues. URC universities use their campuses as best-practice laboratories to test innovations and to move these innovations to the marketplace, turning discoveries into solutions.


Event I: Monday, April 18 at the WSU IBio Building in Detroit | Flooding & Failing Infrastructure

For many communities, flooding and inadequate water infrastructure threaten public health. And heavy rainfall last June left thousands without power and freeways flooded and impassible. During this roundtable discussion, community leaders and state and local officials discuss rural and urban flooding and the complex issues communities face as water tables change and infrastructure ages. 

Topics discussed include research that’s leading to better ways to handle storm water, improve pumping stations and other infrastructure, and help disaster recovery in historically marginalized and low-income communities. 



Event II: Monday, April 25 at MSU Grand Rapids Research Center | PFAS

PFAS are Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are called “forever chemicals” because they are extremely persistent, lasting thousands of years. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has estimated PFAS could be found at more than 11,300 sites in Michigan — fire stations, municipal airports, military sites, refineries and bulk petroleum stations, wastewater treatment plants, old landfills, and various industrial sites.

Because of their widespread use and their persistence in the environment, many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment. Scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. High levels of the toxic chemicals have been found in water supplies around the state and have led state leaders to begin addressing PFAS contamination.



Event III: Monday, May 16 in Traverse City | Microplastics & Water Quality 

Microplastics are found in the Great Lakes, one of the world's largest freshwater ecosystems and the drinking water source for 30 million people. The tiny bits of plastic are very common throughout the five lakes, even in tap water and beer brewed with water from the Great Lakes.in the Great Lakes and other Michigan waterways.  According to the United States Geological Survey, there are 112,000 particles of microplastics per square mile of Great Lakes water.