Cornucopia’s Take: Sewage sludge contains toxic wastes, including pharmaceuticals, household and industrial chemicals, and heavy metals. Many industrial chemicals, including compounds called PFAS used to make heat-resistant, stain-proof, and nonstick products, are unregulated. Very small amounts of PFAS compounds have serious health implications, and recent testing has revealed dangerous levels in Wisconsin water. More than half of all sewage sludge is spread on farmlands, according to the EPA. Organic standards forbid the use of sewage waste on farm fields used in organic production.
Wisconsin case shows how sewage plants spread unregulated toxins across landscape
Wisconsin State Journal
by Steven Verburg
Detection of a toxic chemical in a northeastern Wisconsin wastewater treatment plant’s sludge has prompted a halt to application of the material on nearby farms and raised broader concerns about how public sewer systems across the state may be spreading the chemical across the landscape.
The contaminated sludge in Marinette also highlights unease and confusion in local communities over the absence of enforceable federal or Wisconsin environmental standards for the chemicals — often referred to by the acronym PFAS — despite at least two decades of research linking them to serious health problems.
Marinette has the worst PFAS contamination of drinking water that has been detected in the state. Private wells serving dozens of homes in the neighboring town of Peshtigo are affected, many with PFAS levels exceeding a federal health advisory. Tyco Fire Products, the local company blamed for the pollution, has installed water treatment systems and distributed bottled water in dozens of homes. Read Full Article »