Testing Reveals High Levels of PFAS in Tennessee Fertilizer

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Monday, August 15, 2022
Scott Banbury, Sierra Club Tennessee, 901-619-8567
Barry Sulkin, PEER,, 615-255-2079


Testing Reveals High Levels of PFAS in Tennessee Fertilizer

Music City Gold is a home fertilizer made with Nashville sewage waste


Nashville, TN A new report released today by Sierra Club and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility found troubling concentrations of toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances or “PFAS” in a home fertilizer sold to Nashville residents. Music City Gold is marketed as an “all natural” and “organically rich” fertilizer. But advocates say the product should not be sold to home gardeners due to the discovery that these products also contain high concentrations of PFAS and other persistent chemicals.

While the federal government and state of Tennessee are scrambling to identify and control industries responsible for PFAS pollution, practices like the reuse of sewage waste or “biosolids” effectively recycle pollution from homes and industries back into food crops on farms and home gardens. The samples of Music City Gold had similar concentrations to a broader study of home fertilizers conducted by Sierra Club and the Ecology Center in 2021. All three samples analyzed had concentrations of one key chemical, PFOS, that exceed a screening level set by the state of Maine for sludge use. Maine has halted all sales and land application of sewage waste as a way to contain the PFAS pollution crisis.

Report authors issued the following statements:

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the crisis posed by the reckless use of PFAS in products and industry,” said Scott Banbury, director of the Tennessee Sierra Club. “The good news is that states have the tools to solve the problem. They can ban harmful uses, and limit the discharge of PFAS into state waterways and the wastewater system.


“The City of Nashville should take steps immediately to stop the use of contaminated sewage sludge from being sold as a home fertilizer, said Barry Sulkin of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The marketing of these products is at best, misleading to a home gardener, and at worst could expose the public to concerning amounts of PFAS and other contaminants in home-grown produce. Halting the use of sludge in gardens and local farms would help contain the problem.”


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