Few emerging issues are as contentious for the waste industry as contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The non-stick so-called "forever chemicals" are found in everything from firefighting foam and kitchenware to dental floss and rain jackets. Due to their widespread nature, the chemicals — which have been linked to cancer and numerous health problems — exist in the blood of most humans, and are likely in most if not all landfills.
Waste Dive is closely following how the industry grapples with PFAS, with the challenging chemicals causing pressure for landfills and other facilities throughout the country. Another recently emerging area of contention is the incineration of PFAS, which has sparked legislation over concerns about contamination and public health risks. A number of organizations, including SWANA and EREF, are conducting broad research on PFAS and waste disposal sites, as is the U.S. EPA. We'll continue monitoring this story in months to come, as the EPA faces increasing pressure to act on PFAS and the waste sector seeks a clear path forward.