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PFAS in Solid Waste & Recycling

PFAS potential sources and transmission paths diagram.

Image: Sunderland, EM et. al. (2018)

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are a group of man-made chemicals, commonly known as "forever chemicals", that are found in many household products such as personal care items, waterproof footwear/clothing, stain-resistant carpeting or fabrics, non-stick cookware, and some food packaging. PFAS contamination can be found in food, drinking water, indoor dust, some consumer products, and workplaces. Recently, these chemicals have been found in people. wildlife, and fish all over the world. Once they enter a system, they may stay in people's bodies and/or the environment for extended periods of time due to their resistance to breaking down.


Although landfills, waste/recycling facilities, or composting sites do not directly produce PFAS or the materials that contain it, they continue to receive PFAS-containing products at the end of their life. As a result, solid waste professionals are learning how to responsibly and safely dispose of and eliminate these chemicals, as well as helping people understand the issue and take action to reduce exposure.

Additional Resources

For more information about PFAS in Solid Waste & Recycling:

Wisconsin DNR information on PFAS:

To see a map of sites with reported PFAS contamination in Wisconsin, click here.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services information on PFAS:


The Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WisPAC) has developed statewide initiatives to address growing public health and environmental concerns regarding PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in Wisconsin. In accordance with the stipulations issued by Gov. Evers in Executive Order #40 (2019), the council led the development of a comprehensive Wisconsin PFAS Action Plan, which serves as a roadmap for how state agencies will address these emerging chemicals.

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