Current treatment technologies employed at both POTW’s and Industrial Wastewater Facilities do not remove or destroy PFAS compounds. These compounds are in use throughout society, becoming a consistent component in municipal and industrial wastewater influent. By and large, these facilities use a combination of chemical and biological treatment approaches that produce significant quantities of primary and secondary (bio) solids that requires disposal. As a portion of these persistent compounds reports to the effluent, a large proportion also wind up in the primary and secondary sludges.
Awareness of the potential human impact of these chemicals has grown, and so have the regulations regarding the management of sludges that contain them. These new regulations typically managed at the state level (no federal mandate yet) tend to have regional, not national, impacts. However, many states have restrictions on the disposal of solids, particularly biosolids. More and more treatment facilities are finding themselves shut out of low-cost disposal options such as beneficial reuse. These cost impacts can be significant, with increases of 40-50% not uncommon.
While the regulatory landscape continues to tighten requirements, both federally and regionally, the cost impacts will begin to be experienced by many more facilities. With these costs impacting the facilities, there will be needs for new and adaptive technologies to deal with this change.