Read the full article by Amanda Gokee (VT Digger)

“Vermont has new rules that require monitoring for toxic chemicals everywhere human septage is applied to the land. 

Septage is the liquid and solid material pumped from a septic tank, cesspool, or other primary treatment source for human waste. Scum accumulates on the surface while the sludge settles at the bottom, totaling 20% to 50% of the total septic tank volume when pumped, according to the EPA.

Septage is commonly used as a fertilizer, and that’s one way to dispose of the material. But environmentalists worry about what’s in the septage, and how the quality of drinking water could be affected.

Regulators say the new rules ensure that levels of PFAS, the abbreviation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are monitored and kept to acceptable levels. According to the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, PFAS are toxic chemicals that have been widely used in industry and consumer products since the 1950s. They’re known as ‘forever chemicals’ because of their long lifespan. PFAS have been shown to increase cancer risk and affect fertility and early childhood growth and development.

The rules, announced on Oct. 31, require testing soil, groundwater and the material itself that is being applied to the land. The frequency of testing will depend on the scope of the project, according to Eamon Twohig of the residuals management program within the Agency of Natural Resources.

For land application, it would entail annual testing for both groundwater and soil. 

Tests have shown the presence of PFAS at locations where treated sewage sludge and septage have been applied. PFAS were present in high levels at seven out of 34 sites…”