A recent Michigan investigation yielded new data on how PFAS in wastewater biosolids can accumulate in plants and animals. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) was studying PFAS in municipal wastewater biosolids and investigating historical land application sites across the state and found that biosolids with high levels of PFAS were being absorbed by crops and used as animal feed. This led the state to issue its first consumption advisory for beef from a farm in Livingston County.
Although the farm’s beef results didn’t fit current USDA criteria for a recall or market withdrawal, the state determined that prolonged consumption could increase PFOS levels in the human body. Michigan is working with the farmer to notify customers and provide financial assistance to remove impacted cattle from commerce.
Under an interim strategy launched in 2021, Michigan began prohibiting the land application of industrially impacted biosolids containing more than 150 parts per billion (ppb) of PFOS and now requires testing of biosolids before land application. The farm investigation stems from the 2018 discovery of high levels of PFOS in the wastewater handled by a treatment plant in a nearby county, samples from which contained 269 parts per trillion of PFOS and the biosolids material created during the treatment process contained 2,150 ppb of PFOS. The contamination was traced back to a chrome plating facility served by the plant, and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy has since worked with the facility to install carbon filtration technology to reduce the discharges by 99 percent, as well as to conduct further testing and monitoring that prompted the recent beef advisory.