'Forever chemicals' discussed at commissioners meeting

Apr. 26—GREENSBURG — Biosolids and PFAS were a topic of discussion at a recent meeting of the Decatur County Commissioners.

Commissioner Tony Blodgett read from a report about a new waste treatment plant being considered for Bartholomew County.

The proposed plant will collect sewage from neighboring counties, treat it chemically and redistribute it as a biosolid for use as soil nutrient and land reclamation in Decatur, Rush, Ripley and Bartholomew counties. According the Blodgett's report, 55 acres were land sprayed with biosolids in the Greensburg area last year.

He said his concern was the PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contained in the biosolids.

According to a report in the Penn State Extension, PFAS are endocrine-disrupting chemicals present in countless items we use every day, ranging from clothes to nonstick cookware to upholstery.

Due to their water, fat, and dirt-repellent properties, they are used in thousands of products such as cosmetics and dental floss, but also in pan coatings and fire-extinguishing foam.

In addition to their basic chemical structure, PFAS have another thing in common: they are nearly non-degradable.

PFAS do not break down, thus their moniker "forever chemicals." They stay in our bodies and build up over time.

High levels of PFAS are starting to be associated with cancer, reproductive issues, slowed development in children and even immunity issues.

PFAS levels in drinking water and ground water were not regulated until April 10 of this year when the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to Blodgett's report, Columbus is considering an ordinance that would prevent the use of biosolids from outside Bartholomew County.

"While it's being studied, we really don't have a full grasp of what that means, but I think limiting PFAS coming into our area as much as possible is a good idea," he said.

Both Commissioners Jeremy Pasel and Mark Koors agreed, but no vote on this issue was conducted.

For more information about PFAS, visit www.extension.psu.edu/understanding-pfas-what-they-are-their-impact-and-what-we-can-do.

The Daily News will provide additional coverage of this matter as new information becomes available.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-651-0876 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com.