Maine and Michigan are the only two states where PFAS testing is required, while the other 48 refuse to test for PFAS. The result is PFAS contamination all throughout the food supply, and even inside people's bodies.
The state of Virginia, for instance, actually increased the amount of sludge permitted to be dumped on farmland with no PFAS testing. Similarly, Alabama continues to reject pleas by residents and environmental groups to test for the deadly chemicals.
Other similar such fights are breaking out in states like Georgia and Oklahoma as well, even as regulators ignore the fears and concerns being expressed by public health advocates about how biosludge benefits nobody except the waste management industry and the pockets it greases.
"We're in an absolute mess, and the government knows we're in a mess, but it seems like they don't know what to do," said Julie Lay, an Alabama agricultural worker who is organizing residents in her state to fight back against the spread of biosludge.
"It's terrible," she added.
In case you are unfamiliar with biosludge, it is the byproduct left over from the water treatment process when flushed toilet water, as well as industrial waste discharge, is separated from solids.
According to the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, biosludge is "the most pollutant-rich manmade substance on Earth."
There is currently no known way to remove PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals," from water. This class of toxins continues to be used in consumer products, though, helping them to resist water, stains, and heat damage.
It turns out that PFAS forever chemicals easily move from biosludge straight into soil, food crops, cattle, and water sources. Testing both in Michigan and Maine found that there is widespread PFAS contamination in crop fields as a result of biosludge – and the toxic substances are also being found in foods such as beef, drinking water, and even farmers' blood.
While Michigan has not yet gone as far as Maine to ban biosludge, its various officials and environmental groups are pursuing justice against contaminated farms, including one that was forced to shut down for safety reasons.
Michigan recently enacted a plan that aims to determine risk factors for the highest levels of contamination. The same plan prohibits some wastewater treatment facilities from selling biosludge, as well as forces polluters to stop discharging PFAS into sewers.
Conversely, Virginia is forging ahead with expanding its biosludge program. Last July, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued approval for a permit request by waste management giant Synagro to spread biosludge across nearly 5,400 acres of farmland in King William County, located to the north of Richmond.
According to Tyla Matteson, chair of the York River Group of the Sierra Club, the request was preceded in 2013 by a permit allowing the company to spread biosludge on 7,155 acres in the same county, where the DEQ is now considering another permit request to add an additional 1,900 acres to that total.
Roughly 80 local residents and environmental groups have demanded a public hearing concerning this Synagro permit, but the company is refusing, as are state regulators who claim Synagro is complying with all state and federal laws.
More related news about the scourge of biosludge across America can be found at Biosludge.news.
Sources for this article include: