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CFIA seeking public input related to fertilizers

CFIA seeking public input related to fertilizers

Canadians have until Feb. 20 to provide feedback

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is looking for feedback on a proposed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) standard for municipal biosolids imported or sold in Canada as commercial fertilizers.

PFAS are synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. They’re considered forever chemicals because they don’t degrade, and can be found in products like cleaners, leather and paints.

To minimize contamination risks, the CFIA is proposing moving forward with an interim standard for PFAS in domestic and imported biosolids.

“There are numerous beneficial uses of biosolids in agriculture as a source of nutrients and organic matter, organic waste diversion, biogas and energy production etc,” the CFIA says.

The standard would set a limit of less than 50 parts per billion of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), a type of PFAS found in surface protection products.

CFIA chose PFOS as its indicator because of the more than 4,700 PFAs chemicals, PFOS is one of the best understood.

The CFIA announced the start of the implementation process in May 2023 and gathered feedback from stakeholders in the fall.

The overall responses were supportive.

“There was overall support for the proposed interim standard for PFAS in municipal biosolids imported or sold as fertilizers,” the CFIA said in a statement. The respondents also highlighted the importance of well balanced communication; one that not only identifies the risks of PFAS but also conveys the environmental and economic benefits of municipal biosolids for agriculture, organic waste diversion and recycling.”

Canadians have until Feb. 20 to submit feedback on the CFIA’s proposed interim standard.

Other jurisdictions have taken the opposite approach and banned PFAS use.

In April 2022 in Maine, for example, Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that bans the use of biosolids that contain PFAS in land applications unless there’s evidence the solids are free of PFAS.

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