Biosolids groups urge robust science & thoughtful regulatory approaches

Last week, biosolids groups from across the nation submitted a letter to Dave Ross, U. S. EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, urging the Agency to include wastewater and biosolids management professionals and their perspectives in its efforts to address poly- and perfuorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) in the environment.

PFAS are a group of chemicals, widely used for 50 years in consumer products, fire-fighting foams, and manufacturing. More than two decades of research has found some significant health impacts, mostly associated with the two most common and persistent PFAS: PFOA and PFOS.  Starting in the early 2000s, U. S. EPA facilitated a voluntary phase-out of these two chemicals, and, already, their concentrations are lower in humans.

As health concerns and public scrutiny increase, regulatory agencies are stepping in to protect drinking water, which is considered one of the primary modes of human exposure.  By far the most serious PFAS contamination has been found at and from industrial and fire-fighting sites. Yet wastewater and biosolids are routinely mentioned as other "sources" of PFAS by leading reviews of the topic, even though, to date, research finds orders of magnitude lower impacts from biosolids sites, even where there have been many years of biosolids applications. 

Biosolids practitioners are urging state agencies and U. S. EPA to pay attention to these details and work with us to address any legitimate PFAS concerns related to biosolids, but not make assumptions that result in overreactions that could disrupt important, ongoing biosolids recycling programs and provide no significant public health benefit. 

Read the group letter to U. S. EPA and NEBRA's perspective fact sheet here