North East Biosolids & Residuals Association (NEBRA)
Since 1998, Ned Beecher has been Executive Director of NEBRA, tracking research, legislation, and regulations, and providing information to members and the public. NEBRA advances evidence-based best practices and sustainability in biosolids and residuals recycling. Ned has led research projects and authored articles, papers, and book chapters and has presented on residuals management in the Northeast, eastern Canada, and around North America. He was awarded NEWEA’s Biosolids Management Achievement Award for 2015. For the past year, he has led NEBRA's proactive efforts to understand and respond to the potential implications of PFAS in biosolids and other recycled residuals. He has an MS in Resource Management from Antioch University and a BA in Geology from Amherst College and lives and gardens (using biosolids) with his wife, Chris Clyne, MS, APRN, in Tamworth, NH.
Addressing PFAS Leaching Concern Related to Recycled Biosolids & Other Residuals
Increasing attention to the widespread presence of PFAS in the environment has led to concern about wastewater, biosolids, and other residuals (e.g. from pulp and paper mills) as conveyors of PFAS into the environment. Biosolids and other residuals have likely contained PFAS since the chemicals were invented. Recent screening-quality data compiled from Northeast facilities show today’s materials typically contain single to tens of microgram/L concentrations of PFOA and PFOS (and other PFAS) – down an order of magnitude from levels of PFOA and PFOS reported 15 years ago. Risks from direct exposures (e.g. ingestion) are considered low. However, a few studies suggest the potential for certain PFAS to leach from soils to groundwater and run off to surface waters at environmentally relevant concentrations. Further investigation is needed to better understand potential water impacts when modern residuals are applied over several years. This presentation will review the benefits of recycling biosolids/residuals and focus sharply on the narrow but significant PFAS leaching concern and regulatory agency actions that may threaten continued recycling in some locales. We will discuss key questions that need to be addressed in order to provide guidance to wastewater, residuals, and biosolids managers.