Dana Nessel, the Democratic candidate for state attorney general, faces harsh criticism from a group of fact-checkers who concluded that her new campaign ad about water pollution relies upon “reckless” exaggerations.
The “Truth Squad” at Bridge Magazine found that Nessel acted irresponsibly in the online ad by claiming that the hazardous industrial chemicals known as PFAS could endanger a large number of Michiganders. If elected, Nessel asserted, she would use the attorney general’s power to enforce environmental laws at a time when the state is ignoring these contaminants in lakes and streams.
“At least 11,000 different sites have tested positive for PFAS at dangerous levels,” Nessel claims.
In fact, water testing by the state Department of Environmental Quality has found only six sites, on the Huron River in Kalamazoo County, where PFAS levels warranted health concerns. In the tiny town of Parchment, officials changed the community’s water supply as residents in August were told by the DNR not to eat fish caught in the river.
PFAS substances detected in Michigan waterways have become a concern in recent months as ingestion of the pollutants at a high level is linked to numerous health problems.
Nessel said that her ad, which debuted last week, was based on a DEQ map that outlined 11,000 sites where PFAS might become a problem in the future. The Truth Squad pointed out that “might” is much different than claiming those waters are already dangerous.
As for the candidate’s claim that no one in state government “is willing to really do anything,” the fact-checkers pointed to several actions being taken by state officials to address the threat posed by PFAS.
The Truth Squad rated her ad as “foul,” as opposed to their other grades of fair or misleading.
“Nessel’s ad dangerously spreads misinformation,” they said, “… because it grossly inflates the number of sites that have tested positive for the hazardous chemicals while grossly minimizing Michigan’s efforts to tackle the problem.”