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Organic compost is the likely culprit of PFAS contamination in a rural Massachusetts town

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The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a new warning that no level of PFAS in water is safe. (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a new warning that no level of PFAS in water is safe. (Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images)

Concerns about chemicals in water and soil are part of what fuels the organic movement. So it came as a shock to residents of Westminster, Mass., that the likely cause of PFAS contamination in their town — affecting about 200 properties — is organic compost.

PFAS chemicals are known as "forever chemicals" because they don't really decompose and removing them is complicated. Yet, they're present in everything from flame retardants to non-stick cookware to athletic clothing.

In Westminster, many properties have been tested to show levels 50 times more than the state's recommended levels. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a new warning that no level in water is safe.

Here & Now's Robin Young talks to Staci Rubin from the Conservation Law Foundation and to Westminster resident Anne Lutz.

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This segment aired on August 8, 2022.

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