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Tue Mar 22, 2022, 10:26 AM

'I don't know how we'll survive': the farmers facing ruin in Maine's 'forever chemicals' crisis

Songbird Farm’s 17 acres (7 hectares) hold sandy loam fields, three greenhouses and cutover woods that comprise an idyllic setting near Maine’s central coast. The small organic operation carved out a niche growing heirloom grains, tomatoes, sweet garlic, cantaloupe and other products that were sold to organic food stores or as part of a community-supported agriculture program, where people pay to receive boxes of locally grown produce.

Farmers Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell bought Songbird in 2014. By 2021 the young family with their three-year-old son were hitting their stride, Nordell said.

But disaster struck in December. The couple learned the farm’s previous owner had decades earlier used PFAS-tainted sewage sludge, or “biosolids”, as fertilizer on Songbird’s fields. Testing revealed their soil, drinking water, irrigation water, crops, chickens and blood were contaminated with high levels of the toxic chemicals.

The couple quickly recalled products, alerted customers, suspended their operation and have been left deeply fearful for their financial and physical wellbeing.

“This has flipped everything about our lives on its head,” Nordell said. “We haven’t done a blood test on our kid yet and that’s the most terrifying part. It’s fucking devastating.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/mar/22/i-dont-know-how-well-survive-the-farmers-facing-ruin-in-americas-forever-chemicals-crisis

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Reply 'I don't know how we'll survive': the farmers facing ruin in Maine's 'forever chemicals' crisis (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Mar 2022 OP
mn9driver Mar 2022 #1
LT Barclay Mar 2022 #3
Jilly_in_VA Mar 2022 #2

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Tue Mar 22, 2022, 12:26 PM

1. I remember as a very young kid going with my dad to pick up sludge for our vegetable garden.

That would have been around 1962. We moved from that house just a couple years after that, but it sounds like that stuff was loaded with PFAs (this was Cleveland) and they are probably still there where our 60 year old garden was. It was very common back then.

In Maine today, one thing that no one seems to be proposing is to ban the industrial discharge of these chemicals into the sewage system in the first place. I can’t pour motor oil down my drains, so why can these businesses contaminate sewage sludge with toxic, forever chemicals? I don’t get it.

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Response to mn9driver (Reply #1)

Tue Mar 22, 2022, 09:52 PM

3. Its kind of interesting to me because this was the research area of my master's thesis...

finding ways to predict the degradation rate of xenobiotics in wastewater. We even measured sorption to the biosolids.
Sounds like someone didn't do their homework.
I guess that's a long way of saying that someone should have known, but the way it is done gives everyone plausible deniability.
The movie Dark Waters is another deep dive into the problems in West Virginia due to Teflon.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Tue Mar 22, 2022, 01:52 PM

2. In Madison, WI

everyone in our neighborhood used Milorganite on their lawns. It was made from sludge from the Milwaukee sewage system and smelled like it. Now I wonder about that neighborhood. Several of the kids I grew up with have died of cancer as adults.

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