Deploying Drones to Search for PFAS Contamination at Camp Grayling

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is deploying drones to fly over Lake Margrethe to search for cold water springs that could be carrying PFAS contamination into the lake near Camp Grayling. The MDEQ believes this is the first-ever usage of drones to search for PFAS contamination.

Scientists are hopeful that the drone, using infrared camera technology, will be able to detect where cold water springs are entering warmer lake water.  The premise is that cold water springs transport PFAS contamination to Lake Margrethe from military base locations where firefighting foam was previously used. The drone’s infrared detection of cold water will allow scientists to better identify sample collection locations for PFAS testing.

“To the best of our knowledge, this the first time anyone has ever used a FLIR-equipped drone in the hunt for potential PFAS contamination,” said Carol Isaacs director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART).

PFAS compounds have been used by the Department of Defense (DoD) for fire extinguishing at military base airfields at locations throughout the United States. Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are fluorinated organic chemicals, which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS chemicals are persistent and bioaccumulate. Persistent means they do not break down in the environment and bioaccumulate refers to the process of building up over time in the blood and organs. Of all the PFAS compounds, PFOA and PFOS have been the most studied.

Merit is Michigan’s PFAS environmental laboratory, analyzing soil, wastewater, groundwater, drinking water, and other sample matrices at our laboratory in East Lansing, Michigan. Merit is certified for the analysis of PFAS by ISO/IEC 17025. Analytical method certification for PFAS includes drinking water by EPA 537 rev. 1.1 and wastewater | groundwater | surface water by ASTM D7979 with Isotopic Dilution. Please contact Merit Laboratories for assistance on your PFAS testing needs.