Read the full article by Sam Schipani (Bangor Daily News)
“In 2016, testing at Fred Stone’s Maine dairy farm showed stratospherically high levels of certain chemicals used in manufacturing in his soil and water. The culprit was likely his use of biosolids as fertilizer, something that environmental protection officials had assured him for years was safe.
The chemicals they found were per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, common chemicals in manufacturing that have been strongly linked to health problems like liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.
Stone, like many other farmers in Maine, was told in the 1980s that he could use biosolids — or wastewater sludge — as a fertilizer on his farm. That was the likely source of the chemicals, also known as PFAS. Stone said that he even worked with sewer districts to spread the sludge on other farms, and still has letters from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection from that time ensuring the safety of the practice.
‘There were never any infractions,’ Stone said. ‘I never even got so much as a parking ticket. Everything was done by the book to the letter, no exceptions.’
Even though Stone stopped using the sludge in the 2000s, the properties of PFAS mean that it still lingered. The chemicals, which are present in everything from outdoor gear to firefighting foam, were made to be exceptionally strong and resistant to oil and water, so they are difficult to get rid of — hence their nickname, ‘forever chemicals.’
Stone has tried to ameliorate the PFAS on his farm, but it was no use. Stone’s dairy operations have been suspended for years…”