Solid waste management professionals team up against PFAS chemicals

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WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- Wisconsin solid waste management professionals from around the state are coming together to tackle the issue of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFAS).

Water sample. Hand in glove collects water from a puddle in a test tube. Analysis of water purity, environment, ecology - concept. Water testing for infections, harmful emissions

PFAS, which are man-made chemicals that can cause health concerns – including immune issues and cancer, has been a growing concern for the state of Wisconsin. Back in August, Governor Evers signed an executive order directing the Department of Natural Resources to address the issue. Earlier this week solid waste management experts created a coalition to come up with solutions.

“We get everything you don’t want,” said Meleesa Johnson, President of Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin. “We knew this was going to be a topic of concern because every landfill, most compost facilities, and some recycling facilities produce leachate, which is liquid from the cast-off of garbage.”

Leachate is sent to water treatment facilities to remove contamination, but PFAS chemicals can’t be removed which means the “clean liquid” isn’t totally clean and PFAS will ultimately end back up in our water supplies.

“We needed to start a conversation about what are the risk if we can’t take leachate to wastewater treatment facilities,” added Johnson.

The goal of the coalition is to engage a broader discussion with the community and spread awareness about the type of products consumers are buying that contain PFAS chemicals.

Johnson says consumers should look for items produced in the United States as a better choice because the country has started to make new generations of productions with PFAS chemicals.

Johnson says to fix the issue completely, there will need to be a global discussion in the near future.