For years, states have been actively working to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in a variety of environmental media. One recent challenge is the management of solids, which may be contaminated with PFAS as a result of its discharge to sewer systems from industry, businesses, and households and subsequent accumulation in biosolids produced from municipal wastewater treatment processes. This challenge encompasses a variety of considerations about testing, disposal, treatment, migration to groundwater and drinking water, and potential uptake to crops and animals if land applied. As there is no federal regulation or guidance for PFAS-contaminated biosolids, it is currently up to individual states to determine best practices for managing these contaminated wastewater residuals.
The Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) in November 2022 collected information from state environmental agencies on policies, testing, research gaps, and risk communication challenges related to PFAS in biosolids. Thirty-four states responded to the survey. This paper outlines ECOS’ findings on how these states manage biosolids, and where opportunities exist for regulation, research, and risk communication.
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