Wolverine Worldwide giving mixed messages on filtration systems, affected families say

In Belmont, where water has been contaminated with chemicals, filters are being installed by Wolverine Worldwide.

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MICH. - In the midst of expanded testing for toxic chemicals, Wolverine Worldwide is sending mixed messages on the effectiveness of its kitchen filtration systems, say Belmont families with contaminated water.

The state is testing 338 homes in the Belmont and Rockford areas for possible groundwater contaminated with a carcinogen called PFAS that was traced back to a dumpsite Wolverine Worldwide used in the 1960s. The chemical came from Scotchgard, which the company used to waterproof shoes.

Wolverine Worldwide initially promised to provide bottled water, kitchen filters and, eventually, whole-house filtration systems to all homes that tested above the Environmental Protection Agency's chemical advisory level of 40 parts per trillion. Later, the company included all homes part of the testing zone.

“We had the sink filter put in Sept. 22,” said Jennifer Carney, whose home on Chandler Drive in Belmont tested at 147.9 parts per trillion. “This is one of the ones that is actually certified to filter out the PFOS and PFOA chemicals. I was confident in how the system works."

Carney lost some of her confidence when Wolverine brought her family a Culligan water dispenser Saturday.
"Why do I have [a kitchen filter], plus the Culligan, now I get the whole-house filtration?” she said. “You do start to wonder exactly what's going on."

Wolverine Worldwide would not clarify why it provided some homes with Culligan dispensers. But the company said Saturday, Oct. 15 that the kitchen filtration systems are safe to use.

Meanwhile, Tobyn and Seth McNaughton whose home two doors down from the Carneys tested 28 times above the chemical safety limit, still don’t have a kitchen filter.

“We don’t know when we are getting the filters,” Tobyn said. “Why are [other homes] getting one before us when our number is so high? And we have a baby. I just don't know what their system is, I guess, deciding who gets it when."

A representative for Wolverine will fit the McNaughtons’ home for a kitchen filter Monday, but they’ve used bottled water to drink and cook for nearly two months.

Both families say their medical issues may stem from the chemicals.

“Not knowing what could happen with our health, our son’s health, our neighbors’ health – that’s the worst part of it,” Seth McNaughton said. 

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