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Wastewater's other 4 letter word...PFAS

June 7, 2021

If you are in the water or even the wastewater industry you have heard of PFAS. 

If you google it the EPA’s definition is…Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s.  

PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these water phobic chemicals.

Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects. As an industry and parts of the country have been looking for it in the drinking water watersheds we have overlooked the wastewater portion.  

I am talking about the sludge portion of the wastewater that has been overlooked. 

We know that PFAS/PFOS is in the body and is expelled in our waste and heads to the wastewater treatment plant where the sludge is dewatered and then taken to a landfill or land applied depending on the class. When this sludge breaks down the PFAS/PFOS is released back into the environment via runoff into the drinking water source (lakes and streams) and then back to the consumer. This cycle of removing PFAS and reintroducing it to the environment needs to stop.  

There is only one way to truly to rid ourselves from this cycle and that is to dry the sludge and then incinerate it. This destroys the chemical make-up of the PFAS/PFOS and turns the solids into ash so that it will not go back into the environment. The benefit of burning the solids is that the heat produced can be used in other parts of the plant.  One way to reuse the heat is in the dryer to dry the sludge prior to burning. This is a better cycle than reintroducing it back into the environment.  

There is one company that has done this and has the info to back it up.  Interested?  Let's Talk.



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