Category Archives: PFAS

PFAS in the Santa Fe River Basin in Florida

Some people are interested in whether PFAS from titanium dioxide (TiO2) mines or other sources is getting into the New or Santa Fe Rivers in Florida.

For example, the new Chemours Trail Ridge South Mine southeast of Starke, Florida, appears to drain into Double Run Creek, which runs into the Santa Fe River.

[PFAS in Santa Fe River from TiO2 Mines?]
PFAS in Santa Fe River from TiO2 Mines?
Detail from WWALS map of the Suwannee River Water Trail.

We don’t know about those rivers yet, because nobody has tested them. We do have a few datapoints for a few city drinking water systems, and they’re all clean, although Newberry, just outside the Basin, is not.

No doubt it is possible to find that data in FDEP’s Oculus Document Management System, in the same way it is possible to win a jackpot in Las Vegas. If you already know about six very specific parameters, sure, Oculus will find it. Continue reading

PFAS fixes to wastewater treatment could keep drug residue out of rivers 2021-08-11

The PFAS problem may cause wastewater treatment that cleans up another bad problem: pharmaceuticals.

Tara Lohan, The Revelator (Center for Biological Diversity), August 11, 2021, What Happens to Wildlife Swimming in a Sea of Our Drug Residues?

Wastewater exposes plants and wildlife to hundreds of chemical compounds. Researchers are learning about potential side effects and solutions.

Effects range from obvious physical defects to behavior change. For example, bold crawfish are not safe crawfish.

[Valdosta WWTP clean outfall, 2023-03-04, 30.8361045, -83.3595411]
Valdosta WWTP clean outfall, 2023-03-04, 30.8361045, -83.3595411

But a different type of contaminant may lead to fixes. Continue reading

EPA Proposed PFAS NPDWR Public Hearing 2023-05-04

Register by May 2nd for this online Public Hearing on Thursday, May 4, 2023, from 11 AM to 7 PM EDT.

[PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, 2022-06-30]
PFAS testing, Withlacoochee River, 2022-06-30

Public hearing to present information and receive public comment on the proposed PFAS NPDWR:

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting a public hearing to present information and receive public comment on the proposed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The hearing will be held virtually on May 4, 2023, from 11am until 7pm eastern time. The number of online connections available for the hearing is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Persons wishing to attend this public hearing are requested to register in advance no later than May 2, 2023.

During the virtual hearing, there will be Continue reading

PFAS in sewage sludge as fertilizer 2023-03-30

Human sewage sludge used as fertilizer is a huge problem in Florida, causing algae blooms when it runs off into waterways. In Georgia, distributing sewage sludge as fertilizer may not be as common, but some Land Application Sites (LAS) rent their spray fields for growing hay or other crops. Plus such waste may also carry cancer-causing forever chemicals: PFAS.

[Sewage sludge in Florida --WLRN 2023-06-02]
Sewage sludge in Florida –WLRN 2023-06-02

Jenny Staletovich, WLRN 91.3 FM, June 2, 2021, State Tightens Rules For Sewage Sludge Used As Fertilizer But Leaves A Loophole In Place,

As damaging algae blooms continue to afflict Florida, the state is taking steps to crack down on and track pollution from biosolids, the waste from sewage plants loaded with nutrients that can fuel blooms.

But the new rules, conservationists warn, continue to ignore a loophole for about 40% of the state’s waste.

Continue reading

PFAS forever chemicals are in everything –WUFT 2023-02-14

“This stuff is in everything,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman.

In the Withlacoochee River, in fish in the Alapaha River, maybe in your house. Georgia, Florida, and U.S. EPA should do something about it.

For what you can do, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/pfas/

[Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30]
Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30

Fernando Figueroa, WUFT, February 14, 2023, Community members speak up about new “forever chemicals” study

A new study by the Environmental Working Group, an activist group focused on research, revealed that eating a single freshwater fish is equal to drinking water with high PFAS levels for a month.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” are Continue reading

PFAS in fish in Alapaha River 2023-01-17

Largemouth bass caught in the Alapaha River at Statenville Boat Ramp had high concentrations of PFAS forever chemicals.

EWG summarizes the risk:

Eating just one PFAS-contaminated freshwater fish per month could be the equivalent of drinking a glass of water with very high levels of PFOS or other forever chemicals.

[Map and data: PFAS in fish in Alapaha River --EWG 2023-01-17]
Map and data: PFAS in fish in Alapaha River –EWG 2023-01-17 Sample taken: 2014. Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO), PFAS National Datasets, Ambient Environmental Sampling for PFAS. Available here.

EWG, January 17, 2023, ‘Forever chemicals’ in freshwater fish: Mapping a growing environmental justice problem EPA data reveal high levels of PFAS in fish and human exposure risks,

What does this map show?

From coast to coast, and in almost every state in the U.S., high levels of the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS contaminate freshwater fish. The potential harm is not limited to fish, but the pollution poses health risks to communities that catch and eat the fish.

This map, based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency, confirms the detection of PFAS at alarming levels Continue reading

Forever chemical residue can even be in your house lot 2022-11-27

That house you bought may come with forever chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can harm human (and wildlife) health in many ways.

Florida permits shipping sewage sludge from south Florida to north Florida for agricultural fertilizer. It’s not clear how prevalent the same practice is in Georgia. But from fields it can wash into waterways, and subdivisions may be built on fields that had sludge applied.

[Human health, house PFAS sources]
Human health, house PFAS sources

Marina Schauffler, The Main Monitor, November 27, 2022, Forever exposure, forever anxiety: Coping with the inescapable toxicity of PFAS: Found in water, air, soil, food, consumer products and work settings, “forever chemicals” pose risks to both physical health and mental well-being.

At the end of Joy Road in Fairfield, a steep dead-end road climbs a hillside to a scattering of homes with distant mountain views and some of the higher concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) the state has found to date in groundwater. The neighbors here live under what one resident, Nathan Saunders, called the “cloud of an unknown future,” fearing how PFAS exposure may erode their health.

Continue reading

PFAS contamination may be much more widespread than previously known 2022-10-12

A new model indicates sources of PFAS “forever chemicals” may be much more widespread than usually thought.

[Presumptive Contamination Sites (n=57,412), Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2022, 9, 11, 983-990]
Presumptive Contamination Sites (n=57,412), Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2022, 9, 11, 983-990

That model was published while Waterkeeper Alliance was working up the report on the nationwide PFAS sampling, including the Suwannee Riverkeeper results on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia and Florida.

Presumptive Contamination: A New Approach to PFAS Contamination Based on Likely Sources, Derrick Salvatore, Kira Mok, Kimberly K. Garrett, Grace Poudrier, Phil Brown, Linda S. Birnbaum, Gretta Goldenman, Mark F. Miller, Sharyle Patton, Maddy Poehlein, Julia Varshavsky, and Alissa Cordner, Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 2022, 9, 11, 983-990.

Abstract

While research and regulatory attention to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has increased exponentially in recent years, data are uneven and incomplete about the scale, scope, and severity of PFAS releases and resulting contamination in the United States. This paper argues that in the absence of high-quality testing data, PFAS contamination can be presumed around three types of facilities: (1) fluorinated aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) discharge sites, (2) certain industrial facilities, and (3) sites related to PFAS-containing waste. While data are incomplete on all three types of presumptive PFAS contamination sites, we integrate available geocoded, nationwide data sets into a single map of presumptive contamination sites in the United States, identifying 57,412 sites of presumptive PFAS contamination: 49,145 industrial facilities, 4,255 wastewater treatment plants, 3,493 current or former military sites, and 519 major airports. This conceptual approach allows governments, industries, and communities to rapidly and systematically identify potential exposure sources.

Why should we care? Continue reading

Forever chemicals contaminate Withlacoochee River in Georgia and Florida 2022-10-18

Update 2022-12-24: PFAS contamination may be much more widespread than previously known 2022-10-12.

Hahira, GA, October 18, 2022 — A first-of-its kind study by Waterkeeper Alliance found 83% of the waters tested across the country, and 100% of tested waterways in Georgia and Florida, were contaminated by dangerous PFAS chemicals.

“The PFAS levels we found in the Withlacoochee River were lower than most sites in the U.S., but there should not have been any,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “WWALS is working on ways to do more tests to narrow down likely sources and to see how rain events affect the results.”

[Figure 11: bigger circles indicate more contamination]
Figure 11: bigger circles indicate more contamination

The good news: PFAS levels in four test sites on the Withlacoochee River were among the lowest in the study. Still, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals and their presence is cause for further investigation. For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so relevant and important.

The bad news: Continue reading

Report chemical constituents for forensic PFAS source identification –WWALS to U.S. EPA 2021-09-27

We requested much more labeling of chemical constituents of PFAS “forever chemicals”, to enable tracking PFAS contamination to its sources, when U.S. EPA held a public comment period about a PFAS rule.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brought this problem to our attention back in 2018, due to PFAS contamination from all three Air Force bases in Georgia, plus it turns out the Florida Fire College in Ocala. There are probably many more sources, including biosolids dried out from human wastes and used as fertilizer.

[Map, Letter]
Map, Letter

WWALS letter to EPA

See also the PDF.

The WWALS letter references a St. Johns Riverkeeper letter, co-signed by Waterkeepers Florida (including Suwannee Riverkeeper). PDF. Continue reading