Minimizing the use of PFAS in homes and businesses is key to reducing PFAS pollution
MADISON — Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District has launched a new website, madsewerpfasinitiative.org, which highlights the District’s work to address the pollutants known as PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in the wastewater system. The site also provides information and education on PFAS for individuals and businesses.
“We all have a role to play in minimizing PFAS in the environment, our homes and our businesses,” says Martye Griffin, the District’s director of Ecosystem Services. “As the District does it part to better understand, test for and address PFAS in the wastewater treatment process, we call on individuals and businesses to aid in reduction efforts as well.”
PFAS are a group of manmade compounds that have been in use for more than 70 years and are widespread in the environment. Resistant to heat, water and oil, PFAS are found in a wide range of products used by consumers and industry, such as pizza boxes, dental floss, nonstick cookware and carpeting. Persistent exposure to high amounts of PFAS can negatively impact human and ecosystem health.
The District initiated a plan to address PFAS in early 2020. That plan features three components, including:
A fate and transport review to investigate how PFAS moves through the wastewater treatment cycle;
Holistic sampling and analysis of PFAS in the wastewater treatment system that will begin once the state of Wisconsin certifies labs for PFAS; and
Working with local businesses to help them better understand PFAS, whether it’s in their products or processes, and options for pollution prevention, such as source reduction and product substitution.
Pollution prevention is the most cost-effective way for wastewater utilities to address PFAS. Wastewater utilities are receivers of PFAS, and treatment technologies for PFAS are very expensive.
“Wastewater utilities, including the District, are successfully utilizing pollution prevention strategies to reduce other pollutants in the wastewater cycle, including mercury and chloride,” says Griffin. “Pollution prevention is key to reducing PFAS, not just in wastewater, but in the air, water and soil, our homes, our businesses and our bodies.”
The website is intended to be dynamic. Once the State of Wisconsin certifies labs for PFAS and the District can initiate testing, information about the District’s sampling results will be made available here. In addition, as the District develops information for industrial permittees and businesses regarding product substitution and pollution minimization, it will be available on the site.