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MSU Project Will Study PFAS Contamination In Biosolids

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michigan.gov
Biosolids from wastewater facilities are often used as crop fertilizers, and the presence of those contaminants can have detrimental health effects.

Michigan State University will use a federal grant to study pollution in biosolids from wastewater treatment plants. 

Three MSU researchers will share a nearly $1.5 million grant from the EPA to assess the risks posed by pharmaceuticals and per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

Biosolids from wastewater facilities are often used as crop fertilizers, and the presence of those contaminants can have detrimental health effects.

Dr. Courtney Carignan is with the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at MSU, and one of the principal investigators in the project.

She says PFAS chemicals can have lasting effects.

“They stay in our bodies and have been found to affect many of our bodily systems including our immune functions and reproduction, and they’ve been linked to some types of cancer including testicular and kidney cancer,” Carignan said.

Carignan says historically, most PFAS chemicals have not been easily ingested into plants.

“However, the newer PFAS chemicals that are currently in use seem to be more mobile into plants. So, one thing we should be able to show is what the risk from these newer PFAS can be.”

PFAS are also known to leach into groundwater.

PFAS contamination is a pervasive problem in Michigan. Such chemicals have been used to make an array of products, including carpeting, furniture and firefighting foam.

Carignan says the project will create models to track and prevent human exposure. 

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