Should I dispose of plants that are grown in soil that contains PFAS chemicals?


I am growing lettuce and parsley in a salad table. The growing medium is Pro Mix with Milorganite. There has been recent news about PFAS in sludge based fertilizers. According to a Sierra Club and Michigan Ecology Center study of two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, showed that these chemicals are present in Milorganite. PFOA is below the Maine limit, and PFOS is above. My question concerns the degree of caution. Should I dispose of the plants and “soil”, or should I let this round of lettuce grow and then eat it? I do not plan to use Milorganite again on my salad table or lawn. I will grow the further crops of lettuce and parsley in new Pro Mix and non sludge based fertilizer.


Katherine Garland, Horticulturist

There are many ways individuals can be exposed to PFAS, including their clothing, what they cook with, their water, personal care products, and materials in their homes. Your garden may be one potential source of PFAS exposure.

Our “Understanding PFAS and Your Home Garden” website outlines a number of routes that PFAS may enter your garden (including the one you outlined in your inquiry) and helps you be more informed when it comes to assessing your risk for PFAS being present in your garden. It’s continually updated as we have more information on this complex emerging topic. In particular, I’d suggest looking at steps 7 and 8 (linked below) to help you assess your current situation.

Steps to Understanding PFAS: