MDHHS Recommends Michiganders Avoid Foam on Lakes, Rivers and Streams

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that Michiganders avoid foam on lakes, rivers and streams because it could contain harmful chemicals, including PFAS.

Foam with PFAS in it tends to be bright white, lightweight and may pile up along shores or blow onto beaches. Natural foam without PFAS is usually off-white or brown in color, often has an earthy or fishy scent and tends to pile up in bays, eddies or at dams.

Young children who come into contact with this foam for a few hours a day may be more at risk for negative health effects, according to the MDHHS in a release Thursday.

If you do come into contact with the foam, the MDHHS recommends that you rinse off or bathe as soon as possible, especially if the body of water has suspected PFAS contamination, as coming into contact with the foam without rinsing or bathing could lead to accidentally swallowing foam or foam residue.

“Studies have shown that the risk of PFAS getting into your body from skin contact is low, but you can accidentally swallow PFAS or other chemicals and bacteria if you do not rinse off or bathe after coming into contact with foam,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Washing your hands and rinsing off after water activities can protect you from chemicals or bacteria that may be in water or foam.”

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also recommends that people do not allow their pets to come into contact or swallow foam from lakes, rivers or streams. If they do touch the foam, they should be rinsed off and bathed with fresh water.

If you have questions about PFAS or foam, you can call the MDHHS Environmental Health Hotline at 800-648-6942.