Sludge used as fertilizer could be toxic; ban sought

Public health experts say that Maine should ban the use of municipal sludge as fertilizer after dangerous levels of toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs, were found at a farm near Portland where the sludge was used.

Experts also want the state to stop the use of PFASs in products in Maine, according to a March 19, 2019 article in the Portland Press Herald.

PFASs, man-made chemicals that repel grease and water, are used in a wide range of products including cookware, carpet, clothing, food wrappers and firefighting foam. The chemicals have been linked with cancer, hormone disruption, immune dysfunction, high cholesterol, and obesity.

Laurel Schaider, a research associate in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health, said that there are more than 4,600 variants of PFASs, making it difficult to assess the extent of contamination and related health risks.

“PFAS along with its chemical cousins … are extremely persistent in the environment,” she said. “This means that pollution from older legacy sources continue to be sources of PFAS exposure well into the future.”

Read the Portland Press Herald article: Public health experts aim to stop spreading of sludge