The day this small town told its residents to stop drinking the water, life on Glendale Boulevard turned from quiet to alarming.
One couple decided to immediately put their house up for sale. Another fretted over their young son and the baby who would soon arrive. And up the street, one mom felt a rising indignation that would turn her into an activist to ban chemicals contaminating her family’s drinking water -- and that of millions of other Americans.
That late July day, this town along the banks of the Kalamazoo River became the latest community affected by a ubiquitous class of compounds known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. For years, calls for the federal government to regulate the chemicals have been unsuccessful, and last year the Trump administration tried to block publication of a study urging a much lower threshold of exposure.