Art Schaap, shown, euthanized all the cows on his dairy farm when he discovered they were contaminated with PFAS. Source: The Guardian
It’s a story that is playing out all over the country:
New Mexico To Aid Dairy That Lost Thousands Of Cows, Santa Fe New Mexican, 19 May 2022
The PFAS got into the water, then it got into the cows:
Schaap euthanized 3,665 dairy cows in phases over the past four years, when he first learned they’d become contaminated with PFAS from drinking polluted groundwater.
PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Dubbed “forever chemicals” because they last indefinitely in the bloodstream, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, impaired immunity and cancer.
Highland Dairy, a 3,500-acre farm, is a casualty in an ever-growing environmental and health issue as PFAS increasingly turn up in public drinking water, private wells and food.
You can kill the cows, but you can’t kill the PFAS. It’s “forever”:
Composting will reduce the volume of carrion, but it won’t eliminate the PFAS itself, so the heap of contaminated soil at Highland Dairy will be another hazardous material to manage.
The land is contaminated too:
Schaap said the site is wrecked for any kind of farming. No one will want to buy land with a record of severe PFAS contamination.
Since there is no federal testing program, PFAS are getting into food, and into people eating that food:
“There was milk that left here that was probably contaminated,” Schaap said.
Our ignorance about PFAS is, well, almost comical:
Schaap said he asked federal agricultural managers four years ago to reimburse him for the costs of replacing his herd, but they refused.
Instead, they insisted he try to purge PFAS from the cows by giving them filtered water … the experiment failed.
The science project.
“I feel like I’ve been a science project,” Schaap said.
People think they can stop their exposure by getting rid of their stain-resistant clothing and non-stick pans. Nope. PFAS is now IN THE WATER. It’s in municipal water, ground water*, wells and springs and ponds and streams and RAIN. The answer is (and always was, decades ago when PFAS were known to be harmful) to stop producing PFAS chemicals … of which there are over 5000 by now!
*PFAS have been detected in the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest aquifer in the nation, which spans 174,000 miles and parts of eight states.
Thanks to Virginia.