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Letter to the editor: Biosolids aren’t a good fit

I just read that East Penn Township can’t block biosolids on township farmland (June 2, 2022). Biosolids, Biosludge, Waste Sludge: does not matter what you call it, Biosolids don’t look like a good fit for Pennsylvania.

What an ominous sign posted at the field to warn people to stay away. The sign is not there just for the smell, but for the danger Class B Biosolids pose to the health of people. Class B Biosolid treatments reduce but do not eliminate pathogens.

What is not mentioned in the article are the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS that can be found in these biosolids.

The substances - used in products ranging from nonstick cookware to carpets, food packaging and firefighting foams - are known as “forever chemicals” because they are very slow to break down and can be found in soil, water, plants and animals. These chemicals can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, elevate blood pressure during pregnancy, can cause liver and kidney problems, and can impair the immune system.

In a Nov. 23, 2021, article, Maine state officials found high levels of “forever chemicals” in some deer harvested and issued a do-not-eat advisory for deer taken in the region and farm fields upon which municipal or industrial sludge was spread and found to contain PFASs.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission began testing deer for the presence of chemicals similar to those found in Maine.

The Game Commission’s action was also in response to an October 2021 “do not eat” advisory for Pennsylvania fish in the Neshaminy Creek basin in Bucks and Montgomery counties due to extremely high levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate.

In an article from April 2022, the game commission reported in the deer tested, no forever chemicals were detected beyond the reporting limit. But, three compounds - perfluorononanoic acid, perfluorodecanoic acid and perflurooctanesulfonic acid - were detected in a single liver sample at levels above the reporting limit.

So while I agree with the Lancaster Farming article that it is inappropriate to draw conclusions from the single liver sample, I also agree that we all, including our government agencies, representatives and senators, must delve deeper into the presence of these chemicals in our environment and food supply and test these biosolid samples to really ensure they are safe.

Like the canary in the coal mine, we are being warned about the true danger of biosolids. Now is the time to take actions necessary to keep the public safe.

Lucy Freck