Environment FAQ and answers by Wolverine Worldwide

Wolverine Worldwide Environmental FAQ’s

What’s the issue and concern?

  • In the 1960’s, Wolverine Worldwide disposed of byproduct from its leather tanning operations on its House Street property. The House Street property was state licensed and regulated
  • The byproducts may have contained PFAS which were in 3M’s Scotchgard™ applied to some leather manufactured at the tannery
  • PFOA/PFOS, two chemicals in a family knows as PFAS, have been detected in 15 private wells near the House Street property at levels above the EPA’s drinking water level

How is Wolverine Worldwide being a responsible corporate citizen to the community on these issues?

  • Wolverine Worldwide has been part of this community for almost 140 years, we expect to be here for another 140 years. This community is our home
  • The health and well-being of our neighbors is our top priority and we’re doing all we can, as quickly as we can responsibly do it
  • Out of an abundance of caution, we have voluntarily committed to pay for all PFAS testing, water services, filters certified for PFAS removal, and now whole house water filtration systems for every home in the House Street Study Area and the House Street Precautionary Buffer Zone
  • One of our company values is “Do the Right Thing – Always” and we are committed to doing that in this situation
  • We are committed to assuring that our community has confidence in the quality of their water
  • We live, work and play here and we’re committed to our community for the long-term

How can Homeowners in the House Street area trust the water they are drinking?

  • Upon learning of PFAS in some of the drinking water in the House Street area, Wolverine immediately provided bottled water service and filters certified for PFOA/PFAS removal to the home owners in the initial House Street Study Area
  • Upon the MDEQ’s establishment of a Precautionary Buffer Zone, Wolverine immediately expanded bottled water service to include these homeowners

What longer-term solutions are being implemented?

  • In addition to point-of-use filters certified for PFOA/PFOS removal, Wolverine also offered “Whole House” water filtration systems to all homes with wells testing over the EPA level
  • Wolverine has now also offered Whole House water filtration systems to all homes in the House Street Study Area and the House Street Precautionary Buffer Zone
  • These Whole House systems are being offered regardless of testing results and in most cases before any results have been received – approximately 338 houses
  • This measure was taken voluntarily in an abundance of caution by Wolverine Worldwide. These actions are driven by Wolverine’s deep commitment to the community, and we are not aware of any other PFAS environmental situation where these types of actions have been put in place

What are PFOA and PFOS and what are they used in?

  • Both are part of a larger group of man-made chemicals known as Per- and Polyflouroalkyl Substances “PFAS”
  • These substances have been used for decades and are found in many products and technologies that feature non-stick, stain resistant or water resistant qualities
  • These compounds have been used in fast food wrappers, candy wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, dental floss, cosmetics, paint, sealants, firefighting foam, carpets, Gore-Tex™, and other consumer applications including 3M Scotchgard™ as well as in the manufacture of products such as Teflon™

What is 3M Scotchgard™, does it contain PFAS and how did Wolverine Worldwide use this solution?

  • Scotchgard™ has been used by millions of consumers and thousands of businesses for over 50 years
  • Scotchgard™ has been produced by 3M since the 1956 and is a water and stain repellant treatment used to protect fabrics, furniture and carpets
  • Consumers have used Scotchgard™ as a spray-on fabric and carpet protector for decades
  • Wolverine used Scotchgard™ to provide water and stain repellant properties in some of its leathers beginning around 1960 and switched to a new formula introduced by Scotchgard™ around 2002
  • We now know that Scotchgard™ contained PFOA/PFOS until 3M changed the formula around 2002

Has 3M gotten involved in this matter?

  • 3M are experts at PFAS – they created and sold the product and we now understand that they have a number of environmental sites involving PFAS that they are involved in around the United States (including Alabama and Minnesota) and the world
  • We have reached out to 3M to get their expert advice because they have state of the art research on PFAS and their possible impact on humans and the environment – Wolverine has not yet had access to this research
  • We have asked 3M to step up and partner with us, the community and the various regulatory agencies to help address the issues in our community related to the products that they manufactured and sold

Where are PFAS found?

  • Studies indicate that these compounds are present in over 98% of the U.S. Population
  • Essentially, PFAS are virtually everywhere and in virtually everyone to some degree
  • PFAS have even been found in low population areas such as wildlife in the arctic and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula rivers

If they are virtually everywhere, are there recommendations regarding water that may contain PFAS?

  • EPA’s heath advisory relates only to drinking water
  • The EPA has not issued any health advisories for using water containing PFOA/PFOS for bathing, recreation, cleaning, washing dishes and laundry
  • The EPA drinking water advisory states that water with over 70 parts per trillion (ppt) should not be used for drinking, cooking, making baby formula or washing fruits and vegetables unless it is filtered
  • The research around PFAS, including PFOA and PFOS is so new that many states, including Michigan, have not set advisory levels

How was the 70 parts per trillion drinking water level set by the EPA?

  • The EPA level was based on exposure of the most sensitive populations to PFOA/PFOS for 70 years, drinking 2 liters of impacted water every day

When did the EPA issue advisories on PFAS?

  • Concern over PFAS is emerging and the EPA’s guidance has evolved from its first provisional advisory issued in 2009

What are the known health impacts of PFAS?

  • The Center for Disease Control has stated that “health effects can be caused by many different factors and there is no way to know if PFAS exposure has caused your health problem or made it worse”
  • The Center for Disease control has also stated that studies in humans and animals are “inconsistent and inconclusive”
  • The Kent County Health Department is conducting a heath survey in the House Street area. We understand these results may be available as early as November

How many homeowner wells in the House Street Area have been tested?

  • Wolverine has offered to test all 338 homeowner/private wells in the House Street Study Area and House Street Precautionary Buffer Zone
  • This includes 109 wells in the House Street Study Area and 229 wells in the House Street Buffer Zone

What have been the results of the tests of homeowner wells

  • 88 homeowner well test results have been received to-date
  • 73 homeowner well tests have come back below the EPA drinking water advisory level
  • 15 homeowner wells have tested above the EPA drinking water advisory level
  • We are still waiting for test results for 22 wells in the House Street Study Zone and 229 wells in the House Street Buffer Zone

Will the House Street Precautionary Buffer Zone be expanded to include more homes?

  • The MDEQ is evaluating test results as they come in to better understand the possible flow of ground water. We are cooperating with the MDEQ and through those cooperative efforts it is possible that the House Street Buffer Zone could be expanded

Who is paying for the well tests, bottled water service, filters and whole house systems?

  • Wolverine Worldwide has voluntarily and pro-actively worked with authorities to establish these testing zones and Wolverine Worldwide is paying for the PFAS testing, bottled water service, filters and whole house systems

How can homeowners in the House Street Study Area and the House Street Buffer Zone get a whole house filter installed?

  • Homeowners are being contacted to arrange for the installation of Whole House filter systems
  • Homeowners can contact Wolverine Worldwide at 616-866-5627 or housestreet@wwwinc.com with any questions
  • Wolverine Worldwide will then arrange and pay for a Whole House filtration system to be installed in each home. We expect to install over 300 system and will work diligently to complete this work