Farmers sue EPA over ‘forever chemicals’ in fertilizer

By Ellie Borst | 06/07/2024 01:43 PM EDT

The agency is evaluating the risks of two types of PFAS in biosolid fertilizer, but the suit aims for quicker action on enforceable regulations.

Biosolids used for farm fertilizer.

Biosolids applied to a farm in Mitchells, Virginia, on June 6, 2007. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Five Texas farmers and ranchers are suing EPA over its failure to limit “forever chemicals” in sludge, a problem that they say has killed their animals, jeopardized their health and devalued their land.

The complaint, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, comes while EPA assesses the risks of two types of PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in biosolids, a term for sewage sludge treated to be used as fertilizer.

That process has been “unreasonably delayed,” the complaint says, which asks the court to establish enforceable deadlines by which the agency must promulgate regulations under the Clean Water Act.


“EPA is avoiding its long-standing legal responsibility to protect our health and environment from PFAS in biosolids,” said Kyla Bennett, science policy director for the group representing the farmers and ranchers, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).