WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County’s compost facility will be testing samples of their product for the presence of PFAS.
After high levels of PFAS chemicals were found in a composting facility in Sampson county, composters throughout the state can now send samples of their product to be tested for the levels of these man-made chemicals.
New Hanover County’s compost facility provides their product to Airlie Gardens and New Hanover parks, who uses it to top dress soccer fields and germinate plants. The question of whether PFAS chemicals can travel from compost to food growing in a plant is up for debate.
Joe Suleyman is the director of Environmental Management in New Hanover County and he’s been waiting three months to test the county’s compost. He believes that when it comes to public health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
“So the reason why we want to test it is that we want to make sure that when we’re supplying this product out to the community, that we’re providing a product that we have confidence in and that we’re not adding to the problem by spreading that contamination if it does exist. We don’t want to transfer that into someone’s vegetable garden and then that end up in the food that they eat,” Suleyman said.
Suleyman pointed out that there is still so much that is not known about PFAS chemicals, explaining that “this PFAS and PFOA thing is really just starting to metastasize. We are way behind the curve as a society on understanding what the impacts are.”
Suleyman explained that if levels of PFAS are detected, than they will need to take a hard look at what kinds of material are allowed in the compost pile, such as compostable food wrappers that are coated in PFAS. He says that the results from the sample sent out from New Hanover County’s compost will likely be known by either late November or early December.