Why Be Sludge Free? The Basics
What is sludge? Wastewater from three-quarters of American households flows into over 16,000 municipal waste water treatment plants where it joins with the waste of everything that gets poured down the drain of industries, businesses and hospitals. Sewage sludge is the byproduct that remains after the wastewater is extracted, leaving a concentrated slurry of poisons, pathogens, heavy metals and toxins. Liquid waste effluence, also filled with contaminants, is released into waterways, rivers or used to irrigate crops and food supplied. Several millions tons of sewage sludge produced in America has been land applied to farmlands, public parks, golf courses and home gardens.
Land application of sewage sludge is more than a farm or environmental issue. It is a health and safety issue. Citizens and scientists throughout America, and the world, understand the danger of dumping sludge laden with hazardous concentrations of toxins on the land that sustains our very life, contaminating the foods we eat, the air we breathe and the waterways that provide our drinking water. Regardless of the recorded and potential long term risks associated with land application of sewage sludge, ranging from headaches, infections and respiratory problems, no substantial health related investigations have been conducted by federal, state or local officials.
Legal loop-holes supported by the EPA, state DEP, USDA and CDC have helped the sewage sludge industry become big business. An unsettling body of information highlighting community resistance and scientific concern is shocking, yet the practice of land application of sludge continues. Land application of sewage sludge is not recycling, it is pollution transfer. Education is the first step to your right to safe and healthy food and water.
Why Take A “Dump” Where We Eat?
Nitrogen and phosphorous found in the solid waste residue from waste water treatment plants – called sewage sludge or biosolids – have prompted the sludge industry and government bodies to overlook the toxic blending of everything that goes down the drain and market the by-product as “fertilizer”. Over 8 million tons of sewage sludge/ biosolids are applied to farms, parks and bagged fertilizers in America. The use of sewage sludge on open land means that antimicrobial compounds, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals and pathogens may be absorbed by food crops and water supplies. The EPA requires testing for only nine elements and two bacteria for land application of sewage sludge and no testing of residue build-up in soil. Scientific studies from universities including Yale, Cornell and Johns Hopkins express concerns about the health and safety of sludge/biosolids use.
No food crop, aside from USDA organic, is regulated from growing on land treated with sludge “fertilizer”. Some industry food companies, like Del Monte and Heinz, choose not to purchase food grown in sludge.
What can you do? Get educated – read more on our encyclopedic website. Sign up for future actions and petitions. Donate to our efforts to help highlight and educate citizens around America and the world. Buy USDA organic whenever possible. Tell elected officials you are concerned about sewage sludge in our food and water supply. Contact food and fertilizer companies. Ask your farm stand if they use sludge or biosolids.