Biosolids and PFAS – What’s in my Fertilizer?

January 30, 2023

SCS Engineers
What’s in my fertilizer?


From the USEPA to headlines in the media, coverage of PFAS moving from wastewater to drinking water is a major concern. Furthermore, there are growing concerns about how much PFAS is in by-products that are recycled or reused from waste products. Topping that list is fertilizer.

Retail fertilizer products made from at least 50% biosolids commonly sold to the general public and used in farming contain PFAS, which could get into crops and stock, eating those crops. The Environmental Protection departments in some states are beginning to consider or pass state-level specific regulations on the content of PFAS in biosolids.

The December 2022 USEPA memo to states (pages 4-5) made these recommendations on biosolids as follows:

  1. Recommended Biosolids Assessment 1. Where appropriate, states may work with their POTWs to reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals in biosolids, in addition to the NPDES recommendations in Section B above, following these general steps:7 a. EPA recommends using draft method 1633 to analyze biosolids at POTWs for the presence of 40 PFAS chemicals.8 b. Where monitoring and IU inventory per section B.2 and B.3.a above indicate the presence of PFAS in biosolids from industrial sources, EPA recommends actions in B.3.b to reduce PFAS discharges from IUs. c. EPA recommends validating PFAS reductions with regular monitoring of biosolids. States may also use their available authorities to conduct quarterly monitoring of the POTWs (see 40 CFR 403.10(f)(2)).


Tony Kollasch, an environmental consultant specializing in remediation, tells us to use precaution and learn more about what plans are underway in your state. In his Wisconsin Agri-Business article, BIOSOLIDS and PFAS – NUTRIENTS with a SIDE OF CONCERN, he walks readers through the most recent reports and studies using plain language.

The issues and questions that come up are solvable. There are treatments for removing PFAS, and as an environmental engineering and consulting firm, we solve these types of challenges. We encourage the safe use of by-products and urge you to learn more about specific products by joining associations where you can educate yourself – it’s good for business and for understanding pending regulations that may impact your operations. It will help you run your business sustainably by making sound decisions based on human health, the environment, and economic demand.


Additional Resources:





Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

A&WMA/ASME Waste Information Exchange, Arlington, VA

December 15, 2022

Meet SCS Engineers professionals at the A&WMA/ASME Waste Information Exchange, April 11-12, 2023, at the Doubletree Hilton Washington DC-Crystal City Hotel, in Arlington, Virginia.

This conference will cover the latest on a broad range of waste-related topics including regulations and research in an interactive, discussion-focused format. This is an excellent learning and networking opportunity to hear directly from experts at EPA, NGOs, industry, and academia who are working together to develop solutions to creating a cleaner and healthier environment.  The technical program will cover policy updates and regulatory changes, as well as current and late-breaking research on hot topics such as:

• Solid Waste
• Biosolids
• Landfill Issues and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Monitoring
• Reuse/Recycling
• Resource Management
• Waste-to-Energy
• PFAS Emissions and Controls
• Environmental Justice
• RCRA Requirements for Open Burning

Managers, practitioners, policymakers, and researchers involved in waste management, public works, operations, maintenance, manufacturing, transportation, technology, compliance, collections, and other environmental roles will benefit from the technical content and networking available at this conference.

Sponsorship and display opportunities are available at this conference! Discover how your company can maximize exposure, generate leads, and support the industry.

Visit for registration information and evolving conference details.



Posted by Laura Dorn at 6:09 pm

Waste Expo 2023, New Orleans

September 28, 2022

Meet SCS Engineers and SCS Field Services professionals at Booth 1704 at WasteExpo 2023, May 1-4, in New Orleans.

WasteExpo is the place to be!  The conference program is your professional development opportunity of the year! The education and training that you’ll receive is guaranteed to sharpen your skills to help you do your job better. WasteExpo’s conference program is unparalleled. 2023 Conference Tracks include:

  • Operations, Fleet & Safety
  • Recycling & Landfill
  • Business Insights & Policy
  • Technology & Innovation
  • and more!


Robert Dick

A Bird’s-Eye View: Using Satellites and Drones to Detect and Monitor Emissions, Bob Dick, Sr. VP (Moderator)
Monday, May 1
8:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Room: 275
Session Number: MTECH1


Michelle LeonardWhy is Multifamily Recycling So Hard? with Michelle Leonard, Sr. VP and National Expert on SMM
Monday, May 01, 2023
8:30 AM – 9:45 AM
Room: 279
Session Number: MRECYC1


Nathan HammPFAS: Price to Fix Adulterants will Soar with Nathan Hamm, VP and National Expert on Liquids Management
Monday, May 01, 2023
10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Room: 279
Session Number: MRECYC2


Seizing an Opportunity: The Rise of MRF Investments with Bob Gardner, Sr. VP Solid Waste
Tuesday, May 02:
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM
Room: 279
Session Number: TRECYC3


Philip CarrilloThere’s an App for That! with Phil Carrillo, RMC National Director
Wednesday, May 03: 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM
Room: 275
Session Number: WTECH2


Minimum Recycled Content: Challenges and Opportunities with Vita Quinn, National Expert on Solid Waste Finance and Rate Studies
Day and time to be announced.




Click for more conference details and registration information




Posted by Diane Samuels at 10:01 am

Preventing and Reducing CO2 – Technical Resources, Issue 2

September 28, 2022

SCS Engineers Environmental Consulting and Contracting
Look for this image monthly for our next Preventing and Reducing CO2 issue!


Reducing CO2 is essential for our planet to thrive. At SCS Engineers, we’ve been helping all industries, cities, and states do just that for over 50 years. We focus solely on environmental solutions; in the industry, it’s called pure environmental, along with industry rankings that consistently rank our results in the top tiers.

Our culture is one of sharing. Our professional staff are involved in their communities and global industry associations where we speak, publish and share what works openly with you. Our newest blog series Preventing and Reducing CO2 publishes monthly, bringing you the latest papers, presentations, and case studies on reducing CO2 and targeting climate change.

We hope you find this collection of article, papers, videos, and opinion pieces helpful. The opinion pieces raise logical questions and help us create sustainable solutions rather than quick fixes that don’t stand up economically over time. We include a broader range of topics for landfills, as they diligently work toward reducing CO2 and using proven wastewater treatment options.


Preventing and Reducing CO2 Technical Resources:


Sustainable Living Key to Tackling Climate Change   Tackling Climate Change: ISWA’s James Law explains how changing people’s mindsets and behaviors impacts climate change …

The Wise Way to Fight Inevitable Climate Change   This opinion piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Joseph Duckett describes two major reasons why we need to rethink a country-by-country strategy to fight climate change …

Landfill PFAS Study: Concentrations After Leachate Treatment   The objective of this study was to evaluate a cross-section of full-scale on-site landfill treatment systems to measure changes in PFAS concentrations. Leachate samples were collected before and after treatment from 15 facilities and were evaluated for 26 PFAS, including 11 perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids (PFCAs), 7 perfluoroalkyl sulfonic …

Design to Maximize Landfill Air Space – Your Landfill’s Golden Egg   Free Webinar and QA Forum: Modern Landfill Design for Siting and Maximizing Air Space   The trend to go larger necessitates more landfill design sophistication and master planning to recoup the growing capital investment upfront. During this month’s SCS Engineers webinar and open forum, our panel will discuss how extending the life of a landfill is a greener option …

EPA’s Brownfields Cleanup Grants $60M – Deadline November 22   Brownfields redevelopment and land recycling cleans up past activities that occurred on properties impacting local ecosystems. These properties help revitalize areas economically while making them safe again. When you’re looking at energy as well as environmental costs, remediation is often greener. The FY 2023 Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Guidelines are now available (go to Open Solicitations). The application submission deadline is November 22, 2022.


SCS respects your privacy – you may share these resources individually using social media and email icons on each page. You may share all of the resources by sharing this blog. Look for our next Preventing and Reducing CO2 blog in October! If you missed our August issue – no problem, click here.





Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

2022 Colorado SWANA Annual Conference

September 26, 2022

The Colorado Rocky Mountain Chapter of SWANA its hosting its 2022 Annual Conference in Black Hawk, CO, October 11-13.

SCS Engineers Project Manager, Jeff Phillips, is presenting on
“Landfill Fire Mitigation Plan and Training” on Thursday, October 13 (1:15 – 2:45 pm)

Jeff’s AbstractFires are occurring with increasing frequency in the solid waste and recycling industry. While fires are certainly a serious safety risk to facility personnel and emergency responders, they also pose an administrative risk as facilities are struggling to keep or renew insurance policies.  Learn how developing a fire mitigation plan, and training that plan, can help prevent fires from occurring and keep them from escalating by identify gaps of knowledge, resources, and communication between facility managers and emergency responders. This presentation will provide an update on fires within the industry and present examples of fires within industry so that we can learn from other events (the good and bad). The presentation will also discuss the benefits of having a fire mitigation plan, the process of developing the plan and its components, the unique safety risks solid waste facilities pose to emergency responders, strategies to engage emergency response managers, and suggestions on how to “train the plan”.

The Conference will include exhibitors, networking opportunities, and a return of the popular Solid Waste Operations Safety Course.  Featured sessions will cover:

  • Landfill Design and Closure
  • Waste Diversion and Unique Waste Diversion
  • Landfill Fire Mitigation
  • Landfill Operator Roundtable discussion
  • PFAS
  • Beneficial Use of Solid Waste
  • Renewable Energy
  • Landfill Gas
  • Landfill Operations
  • Regulatory Updates
  • Scalehouse Technology Advances
  • and more!

Click for more details and registration information.  Hope to see you there!


Posted by Laura Dorn at 5:56 pm

SWANA Keystone/PWIA 22nd Annual Joint Fall Conference

July 19, 2022

The Keystone Chapter of SWANA and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association (PWIA) are hosting their 22nd Annual Joint Fall Conference at the Harrisburg Hilton on September 7 & 8, 2002.

SCS Professionals will be in attendance and are presenting at the conference, including the following (times and rooms to be confirmed):

Josh Roth is co-presenting an Air Quality Update with Eli Brill
(Wed Sept 7 at 4:45 pm and Thurs Sept 8 at 9:00 am, both in Metropolitan C)

Ryan Duckett will discuss a Pilot Food Waste Diversion Project
(Wed Sept 7 at 1:15 pm and Thurs Sept 8 at 10:30 am, both in New Governor)

The Joint Fall Conference is Pennsylvania’s premier solid waste management event, and it will feature an exhibit hall, plenty of networking opportunities, a panel from Waste Advantage Magazine, and more.  The conference is still taking shape, a few exhibit spaces and sponsorships are still available.

For more details and registration/exhibitor/sponsorship information, visit the conference website



Posted by Laura Dorn at 12:18 pm

Updated EPA RSL Tables Include 14 PFAS Constituents

June 2, 2022

SCS Engineers Environmental Consulting and Contracting


Since the 1990s, USEPA has provided risk-based Regional Screening Levels (RSLs) to assist in evaluating environmental monitoring and contaminant levels – e.g., in soil, air, and water at residential and industrial properties.  EPA periodically updates the RSL tables to reflect new contaminants of concern and new chemical toxicity data.  The May 2022 RSL tables have been expanded to include 14 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).  PFAS are a large family of emerging contaminants that are garnering significant interest due to their significant toxicity and widespread use in industrial and consumer products such as fire-fighting foam, fabric treatment, and some food packaging.  The latest EPA RSL tables are available at:

Additional info regarding ongoing efforts to address and treat PFAS are available by searching this website: and then using the filter to narrow down returns to your interests.



Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

NWRA and SWANA Urge Congress to Refine CERCLA – PFAS Language

May 12, 2022

Important 2022 Regulatory Announcement from SCS Engineers
CERCLA – PFAS Announcement

In a letter to Congress, SWANA and NWRA associations request that regulation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response,Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination assign environmental cleanup liability to the industries that created the pollution in the first place.  Both associations note that MSW landfills and solid waste managment, an essential public service do not manufacture nor use PFAS. The industry, and ultimately the general public should therefore not be burdened with CERCLA liability and costs associated with mitigating PFAS from water and wastewater.



May 10, 2022

Re: Relief for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills from CERCLA Liability for PFAS

Dear Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Capito, Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, Chairman Pallone, and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers:

The municipal solid waste (MSW) management sector strongly supports the goal of addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and holding accountable manufacturers and heavy users of these compounds. We are concerned, however, that regulation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) instead would assign environmental cleanup liability to essential public services and their customers. We therefore request that Congress provide MSW landfills and other passive receivers with a narrow exemption from liability if certain PFAS are designated as hazardous substances under CERCLA. Doing so would keep CERCLA liability on the industries that created the pollution in the first place.


• Landfills neither manufacture nor use PFAS; instead, they receive discarded materials containing PFAS that are ubiquitous in residential and commercial waste streams. MSW landfills and the communities they serve should not be held financially liable under CERCLA for PFAS contamination, as landfills are part of the long-term solution to managing these compounds.
• Landfills are essential public services that are subject to extensive federal, state, and local environmental, health, and safety requirements. Further, MSW landfills are important to managing and limiting PFAS in the environment, as recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its December 2020 draft Interim Guidance on the Destruction and Disposal of [PFAS] and Materials Containing [PFAS].
Just as certain airports are required by law to use firefighting foam containing PFAS, permitting authorities often require landfills to accept waste streams containing PFAS.
• Most landfills rely on wastewater treatment facilities for leachate management. Wastewater and drinking water facilities increasingly rely on landfills for biosolids management and disposal of PFAS-laden filters. Efforts to address PFAS at MSW landfills and drinking water and wastewater facilities must avoid disrupting this interdependence among essential public services to communities.
• Landfill leachate typically represents a minor proportion of the total quantity of PFAS received at wastewater treatment facilities from all sources. PFAS manufacturers or users, by comparison, contribute PFAS at levels that can be orders of magnitude higher than landfills.

Significant Economic Impacts

• Removing PFAS from landfill leachate requires advanced treatment techniques which are prohibitively expensive. Estimated capital costs to implement leachate pretreatment at a moderate-sized landfill to the extent necessary to significantly reduce PFAS range from $2 million to $7 million, with nationwide costs totaling $966 million to $6.279 billion per year for the solid waste sector. Trace concentrations of PFAS nevertheless would remain in leachate following pretreatment, exposing landfills to CERCLA liability.
• Absent relief from CERCLA liability, manufacturers and heavy users of PFAS compounds will bring claims for contribution against landfills and other passive receivers, generating significant litigation costs. EPA’s exercise of enforcement discretion will not insulate landfills from this litigation.
• These costs will be passed along to communities, water and wastewater treatment facilities, and biosolids management, all of which rely on the services of MSW landfills.

Broad Unintended Consequences

CERCLA regulation will impel landfills to restrict inbound wastes and/or increase disposal costs for media with elevated levels of PFAS, including filters, biosolids, and impacted soils at Department of Defense facilities. The mere prospect of regulation in this area is already disrupting the interdependence of the drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste sectors.
• Food waste compost may contain PFAS due to contact with PFAS-lined packaging materials. As a result, a CERCLA designation could result in communities diverting food waste from organics recycling programs, hindering federal, state, and local climate and waste reduction goals.
• Cost increases likely will have a significant disproportionate impact on low-income households that rely on the affordability of services that the solid waste sector provides.


Although our sector is simultaneously pursuing “no action assurance” from EPA, the agency historically has been very hesitant to provide this relief given its policy that assurances should be given only “in extremely unusual cases.” As such, and acknowledging that EPA may have limited authority to act on our request, we recommend providing the following narrow exemption from CERCLA liability that affords relief to landfills and other passive receivers of PFAS1:

(a) IN GENERAL.—No publicly owned or operated community water system (as defined at 42 U.S.C. 300f), publicly owned treatment works (as defined at 33 U.S.C. 1292), or municipal solid waste landfill (as defined at 40 C.F.R. 258.2) shall be liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.) for the costs of responding to, or damages resulting from, a release to the environment of a perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substance designated as a hazardous substance under section 102(a) of such Act that resulted from the discharge of effluent, the disposal or management of biosolids, the disposal of filtration media resin, or the discharge of leachate where such actions are in compliance with Federal or State law and all applicable permits.

(b) EXCEPTION.—Subsection (a) shall not apply with respect to any discharge described in such subsection that results from any gross negligence, willful misconduct, or noncompliance with any Federal or State law or permit governing the discharge of effluent, disposal or management of biosolids, disposal of filtration media resin, or waste disposal.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to continuing to partner with the federal government to ensure the safe and effective management of waste streams containing PFAS.

National Waste & Recycling Association
Solid Waste Association of North America

cc: Senate EPW Committee Members
House T&I and E&C Committee Members


1 The exemption would not extend to underlying soil and groundwater contamination from a MSW landfill or to facilities other than MSW landfills that accept waste streams with elevated concentrations of PFAS.


Posted by Diane Samuels at 12:22 pm

SCS Engineers 2022 Solid Waste Seminar, Harrisburg

May 5, 2022

SCS Engineer is hosting our 2022 Solid Waste Seminar on June 8 in Harrisburg, PA.

This half-day seminar is designed to provide updates on the latest regulatory, policy, and technological developments in solid waste management.  The sessions are presented by experienced SCS professionals, and continuing education units are available.  This year, our professionals will cover these important topics:

Emerging Contaminants – What Could the Future Hold?
-Kimberley Starks, Project Manager

Is Waste Screening Worth the Time, Effort, and Expense?
-Denise Wessels, PE, Vice President

Compost Case Studies
-Greg McCarron, PE, Vice President

LFG to RNG—Industry Status and Trends
-Eric Peterson, PE, Vice President

Enhanced Monitoring of Elevated Temperature Wells for NESHAP Subpart AAAA
-Tom Lock, Vice President

Work Smarter, Not Harder – RMC to Improve Your Operations
-David Hostetter, PE, Business Manager

Pennsylvania Regulatory Update
-Jason Dunham, PADEP
-Josh Roth, PE, Vice President


The seminar is intended for solid waste management professionals, landfill managers, waste/recycling managers, supervisors, and operators. For attendees already possessing solid waste management and disposal experience, topics will provide a fresh perspective and cover important regulatory and technological updates. For those new to the field, topics will cover essential information on various critical aspects of waste/ recycling program collections, transfer, processing, and disposal, as well as landfill development, operations, monitoring, and management

Click here to register.

Posted by Diane Samuels at 9:02 am

EPA adds 4 PFAS compounds to Toxic Release Inventory reporting program

January 31, 2022

Important 2022 Regulatory Announcement from SCS Engineers

EPA Requires Reporting on Releases and Other Waste Management of Certain PFAS, Including PFBS

As part of EPA’s Strategic Roadmap, the Agency announced the automatic addition of four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) list.

As of January 1, 2022, facilities that are subject to reporting requirements for these chemicals should start tracking their activities involving these PFAS as required by Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. Reporting forms for these PFAS will be due to EPA by July 1, 2023, for the calendar year 2022 data.

In April 2021:

  • EPA finalized a toxicity value for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) (Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) 375-73-5) and
  • Potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (CASRN 29420-49-3).

EPA previously updated the Code of Federal Regulations with PFAS that were added to the TRI on January 1, 2021, under section 7321(c) of the NDAA and regulated by an existing significant new use rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (see 40 CFR 721.10536).

  • CASRN 65104-45-2 is designated as “active” on the TSCA Inventory and is covered by the SNUR. Therefore, this substance has also been added to the TRI under the NDAA.
  • CASRN 203743-03-7, this PFAS EPA included in updates to the confidential status of chemicals on the TSCA Inventory published in October 2021 and thus was added to the TRI list due to the CBI declassification.

In addition to continuing to add PFAS to the TRI, the EPA will soon announce a series of PFAS test orders requiring PFAS manufacturers to provide the Agency with toxicity data and information on PFAS.

If you have questions or concerns about reporting requirements, contact one of our environmental chemistry – hazardous materials/waste professionals at .







Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am