Tetra Tech’s Erica Lawson and Meleesa Johnson, the Director of Solid Waste Management for Marathon County, Wisconsin. wrote this piece to discuss the how the solid waste solutions and wastewater industries work together with state agencies to develop an action plan for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) regulation.
The original article appeared in Waste Advantage Magazine’s March 2021 issue.
The solid waste and wastewater industries are evaluating their intertwined roles in the PFAS life cycle to protect the public from potential adverse health impacts of PFAS. The widespread use of products containing PFAS results in multiple exposure pathways throughout the life cycle of the chemicals, making it difficult to develop a data- and science-driven action plan for mitigating potential public exposure.
The federal process to develop environmental standards for these chemicals can be lengthy. This has caused individual states to develop their own standards to reduce risk. Wisconsin’s approach shows great promise as a standard bearer. With the development of a multi-agency PFAS action plan, reliance on carefully vetted data, consideration of public and industry comments and concerns, and active involvement of the Wisconsin Solid Waste PFAS Coalition, the state of Wisconsin is taking the appropriate measures to protect human health and the environment while avoiding the pitfalls of a hasty overreaction.
PFAS and solid waste management
Discarded consumer products and industrial wastes containing PFAS decompose in landfills, releasing PFAS from the waste into landfill gas and leachate. Some of these contaminants make their way into groundwater, surface water, and ambient air. Stormwater runoff and discharges from landfills also can be impacted by PFAS due to source materials used in landfill construction. This transport of contaminants potentially makes landfills a key component of the PFAS life cycle.
CSRwire, 1 April 2021