By Jessica Mathews /

As the summer months approach, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is issuing its annual recommendation that Livingston County residents and others across the state avoid contact with foam they may see on water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and streams.

The state cautions the foam may have unknown chemicals or bacteria in them so it is recommended to avoid contact. Foam can form on any waterbody but foam on some water bodies may have high levels of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. PFAS-containing foam tends to be bright white in color, is often lightweight, and may pile up like shaving cream on shorelines or blow onto beaches.

Naturally occurring foam without PFAS tends to pile up in bays, eddies, or at river barriers such as dams. Naturally occurring foam is typically off-white and/or brown in color and often has an earthy or fishy scent. If contact with foam is made, officials say care should be taken to rinse or wash it off as soon as possible, particularly if PFAS contamination is suspected in the waterbody. The longer that foam remains on the skin, the greater the chance of accidentally swallowing the foam or the foam residue left behind.

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said although current science shows that the risk of PFAS getting into someone’s system from contact with skin is low, people can minimize exposure to PFAS by rinsing or showering after recreational activities.

PFAS are emerging contaminants and the state is working to identify all water bodies that have been affected. Health advisories have been issued for specific waterbodies where PFAS-containing foam has been found in the past, which includes the Huron River in Southeast Michigan. The state recommends that people of all ages avoid foam on water bodies, including young children. It is further recommended that people do not allow their animals - especially dogs - to come into contact with or swallow the foam.

More information and specific advisories can be found through the provided link.