Home, Garden & Playground Risks – Simply Put
- 8 million tons of America’s sewage sludge – is applied to parks, playgrounds, farmlands, golf courses and sold to home gardeners as a bagged “fertilizer.”
- Sewage sludge looks like any manure, fertilizer or pellets – but contains the hazardous waste that is washed down the drain of homes, businesses, industries and hospitals – toxic chemicals, pathogens, bacteria and pharmaceuticals.
- From fertilizer to soil to your family – heavy metals and toxic waste are absorbed from the false “fertilizer” into your soils and landscapes where you and your children are exposed. Pathogens survive the treatment process. No pharmaceuticals or hormones require testing.
- Sewage sludge exposure – can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, induce breathing and asthma problems, create skin infections, muscle and joint pain, diarrhea and death.
- Labeling is a “crap shoot” – if the bag says topsoil, it is usually topsoil. If the bag says it is humus from a location, it is probably all humus. If the bag says compost and nothing else, it is a “crap shoot” at best.
- No labeling requirements – bagged fertilizer often names compost somewhere on the label but there are no requirements to list sewage sludge or biosolids as an ingredient in the material. Sludge can legally be blended into other bagged fertilizers with no labeling requirement.
- The nose knows – in a savvy move to disguise sewage sludge/biosolids, dried fertilizer pellets can avoid the smell. But the nose knows – the smell is just the indicator that something is not right.
- Deceptively labeling of sludge, biosolids and composts – cozy words like “organic”, “sterilized”, “pasteurized” or “sanitized” have little meaning since there are no federal rules regulating marketing terms.
- Cheap municipalities compost – often sewage sludge is mixed with green waste and called “compost”. Composting sludge may reduce some disease causing pathogens, but studies shows that the pathogens that survive are now stronger and more drug-resistant, a.k.a anti-biotic resistant.
- Marketing is key – municipalities can market their product, such as Milorganite made in Milwaukee, WI, or Dillo Dirt out of Austin, TX. “Compost” given away or sold at municipalities will contain the hazardous wastes from that location.
- Bulk Composts are bulk sludge – most garden centers have no idea that the bulk “compost” sold to homeowners often contains sewage sludge – UNLESS the owner can give you the originating site of the compost and where it came from.
- Protect your family, home garden and pets – use sludge-free fertilizer. Tell your local officials you do not want sludge/biosolids on your parks, playgrounds, schools and athletic fields. Tell your state and federal elected officials a change to the laws – sewage sludge doesn’t belong in our food, water and communities.
Where do your children play? When you head to the park, athletic field or golf course, is your landscape fertilized with sewage sludge/biosolids? Could your home garden or lawn be transferring municipal waste to your vegetables, flowers, pets and children? Is your families health worth a green lawn?
Nothing is more tempting then a sunny day outdoors in open space, green lawn or plunging your fingers into garden soil. But now you know – caution is advised as more of your open space becomes the dumping grounds for municipal waste marketed as a false fertilizer. Sewage sludge and biosolids, marketed as fertilizers or “compost” look innocent enough, just like any manure or fertilizer. But many fertilizer/compost products made from sewage sludge, the semi-solid remains of everything that comes out of your waste water treatment plant, pose potential danger to your family’s health and safety. Sounds gross – and it is! Think of everything that goes down the drain of homes, businesses, industries and hospitals and you will understand why the few test that regulate sewage sludge/biosolids are a farce. Yet, 60% of all sewage sludge waste is spread on farmlands, parks, playgrounds, golf courses and sold to gardeners as bagged ‘fertilizer’.
The nitrogen and phosphorous in sewage sludge makes plants grow. But buyers beware – terms like “natural” and “healthy” are just words with no standards that protect the consumer. Sewage sludge/biosolids based fertilizers are promoted because municipalities want to dispose of toxic waste as cheap as possible, not because the product is clean, healthy or better. Remember, toxins and heavy metals don’t disappear because they are heated and doused with chemicals at the waste water treatment plant. Sun or rain does not “dilute” wastes that are dangerous to your children and pets. Contaminants build up in your soil and the dust travels by wind or the rainwater runs off into your waterways, home and community. The heavy metals and toxic waste condensed in sewage sludge become absorbed in your vegetables and plants.
Sewage sludge/biosolids can be spread on your school grounds, athletic fields, playground, golf courses and parklands legally and without public notice. When you are duped into purchasing sludge based bagged or bulk fertilizer, you are introducing contaminated waste products to the soil where your family grows foods and plays in the great outdoors.
Who is protecting you and your family?
Compost, Fertilizer and Toxic Waste Transfer
How did our toxic municipal sewage sludge waste become a false “fertilizer” marketed as a wonder that makes plants grow? Selling the idea of sludge as a “safe fertilizer” started after the Clean Water Act declared that ocean dumping of sewage sludge was killing the sea and the practice of ocean dumping was banned. In 1991, the Name Change Task Force of the Federation of Sewage Works Associations, went into action, transforming the industry into the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the solid sewage waste product from sewage sludge to “biosolids.” With the new name came the promotion of the “nutrient-rich organic byproduct” of the nation’s wastewater treatment process solid remains. Embracing it’s name makeover, the sewage sludge industry worked with the municipal waste and bureaucracies searching for a cheap way to dispose of our waste.
In an effort to encourage acceptance of the solid and liquid wastes from the waste water treatment plants, a bizarre series of declarations by some Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials determined that “sludge magic” transformed the the known contaminants into “compost” or “fertilizer.” By merely changing the name of the waste from ‘sewage sludge’ to ‘biosolids’, the icky sludge – filled with the known toxins, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and bacteria – could be marketed to un-suspecting gardeners, landscapers and farmers as a quick and easy way to get rid of America’s modern toxic waste – by putting it on YOUR garden.
Although this clever move by the sludge industry – and our bureaucracy who refuses to update the 30 year old minimal regulations – is financially the cheapest way to dispose of our waste, sewage sludge solids and liquids on our gardens, farmlands, parks, playgrounds and athletic fields ultimately endanger our citizens and our children.
Who is protecting the people? Since the early 1990s, the EPA has been constructing the fantasy with the waste management industry and municipalities to market sewage sludge as a safe fertilizer for application on land. But just because it’s “legal” doesn’t mean it’s safe. The “risk assessment” used to determine if your family should be exposed to modern municipal and industrial waste provides no proof that sludge/biosolids is safe. There are no tests or proof that the toxic waste from our drains and toilets is safe. None.
Sludge/biosolids are often marketed as a “sterilized” or “pasteurized” or “sanitized” compost, meaning the treatment levels are higher and heated to 131 degrees F. All good words, but they have little meaning since many bacteria have become heat tolerant. None of the regulations have been changed to require higher temperatures for the heating process used – and they are certainly NOT bacteria free. All you have to do is apply water and let the bagged or bulk sludge/compost mixture sit in a warm place. In a short time, you will smell the distinctive stink of sludge, the indication that the bacteria are alive. This bacteria “bloom” means the bacteria, often containing antibiotic resistance, is alive and well. If bacteria survive the waste water treatment process, what else is surviving?
When “Compost” Means “Industrial Waste”
Sludge/biosolids is not “organic” fertilizers, “biosolids recycling,” or “composting” as claimed – it’s the cheapest and easiest way to move toxic waste from cities “away” … to the very lands that grow our foods, where our children play and where we enjoy the wonderful outdoors. Certainly, we cannot fault consumers, gardeners, and farmers for being confused as industry employs some of the best marketing firms to sway and “greenwash” our opinions.
The word “compost” has traditionally been applied to vegetable material and scraps that gardeners and farmers collect to re-use on crops and gardens. Most citizens would consider the term “compost” closer to the definition adopted by national Sierra Club policy referring to food scraps, grass clipping, leaves, brush, branches, other landscape trimmings and clean wood. The abduction of the word from our recognized vocabulary is purposeful. The US Composting Council (USCC) uses the term “compost” on an industrial scale to include sewage sludge, as well as other commercial and municipal waste.
In 2012 a public relations campaign by the US Composting Council (USCC), an organization founded by the disposable diaper industry, was designed to influence policymakers and the public expanded its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge. This effort, intended to increase disposal of sewage sludge waste, targeted distribution on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste. The USCC markets the dumping of sewage sludge onto gardens and farms through sponsored outreach programs like the International Compost Awareness Week or compost give-aways. Of course, the buyer of compost is not aware that USCC puts their seal on sewage sludge-derived “compost.” As a promoter of sludge/biosolids, the compost council and sludge industry work closely with “industry publication” including BioCycle magazine, Water Environment Federation, Kellogg Garden Products, and other promoters of growing food in sewage sludge.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which sets the regulations on hazardous wastes, excludes sewage sewage or the marketed “biosolids”. According to the distortion of our laws intended to protect our health, if you dump your hazardous waste into the nearest river, you are breaking the law – but if it is dumped in the sewer, you may be doing nothing illegal. Although the Clean Water Act does call for voluntary compliance by some industries for pretreatment of their waste there is no monitoring and no one is paying attention to what is going down the drain.
The spreading of sewage sludge on farm fields and gardens has come under increasing fire by citizens concerned about the potential health consequences of this practice. Although the industry claims the practice is cheap and safe, EPA surveys consistently find multiple toxic and hazardous materials, including flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceuticals and bacteria.
The EPA and the Water Environment Research Foundation (the sludge industry’s “science” arm) issued a report that recognizes the re-growth of bacteria in sludge/biosolids after leaving the treatment plant was often explosive and”unexplained”. Re-growth of tested bacterias E. coli or Salmonella often doubled every 30 minutes, a shocking revelation even as the bureaucracy disregards all the other bacteria and viruses that survive the treatment process. In fact, antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses have been found and linked to both solid and liquid sewage sludge wastes. Independent tests show the extreme variations of heavy metals when comparing animal manure to bagged fertilizer. Once the sludge/biosolids leaves the treatment facility, there are no more testing requirements. Obviously, it is a financial and liability benefit to move the sludge/biosolids product off site as soon as possible.
The nose knows: the smell of sewage sludge/biosolids is different than normal farming smells and can be the indicator that something is not right. Sometimes, the “compost” from garden centers or the “compost giveaway” from your municipality seems fine when you pick it up but once rains soak the land, you know something is not right. Once wet, the bacteria awakens in the sludge/biosolids “compost” and begins to grow again. You and your family are now exposed to that live bacteria and any other viruses and chemical that may have survived the heating process from the waste water treatment plant. If sludge/biosolids is turned into fertilizer pellets, the issue of the smell can be avoided but it is still just a way to move contamination from the waste water treatment plant to your plants, landscapes and family. When sludge is given away or sold as “compost” – or turned into neat little pellets – it still contains hazardous waste.
Luckily, the sludge industry has good lobbying involved in determining our laws. But who’s protecting us?
Bagged Fertilizer and Other Tricks on Gardeners
Found in sludge but not tested for: dioxin, flame retardant, plutonium, radiation, virus, Teflon, antifreeze, PCB’s and so much more. These substances combine in the waste treatment process, creating new contaminants with known destructive impacts to human health and the landscapes we live in. When you and your family play outdoors in sewage sludge/biosolids “fertilizer”, your exposure is as varied as the contaminants in the waste, sometimes presenting skin and lung infection suddenly but sometimes building slowly in the body. Unfortunately, as with many contaminants spread, spewed and doused into the environment, the short term and long term problems are hard to trace to the source – and industry counts on that fact to avoid responsibility. Of course, if you don’t test for anything toxic, you can claim that no toxin have been found. Bagged fertilizer makes the transfer of our modern municipal waste conveniently spread throughout the country.
Sludge can legally be “blended” into other bagged fertilizers and there is no labeling requirement. Sometimes the product is called “biosolids,” sometimes they’re not. Any time the term “biosolids” is used, it is always sewage sludge.Sometimes bagged fertilizer will list the compost generator such as Milwaukee, WI, where Milorganite is made – but not often.
The big piles of compost you see in large nursery and garden centers will often contain sewage sludge–UNLESS the owner can give you the originating site of the compost and where it came from. Most garden centers and nursery owners have no idea what they are selling in bulk to landscape companies and homeowners.
If the bag says topsoil, it is most likely topsoil. If the bag says it is humus from a location, it is probably humus. If the bag says compost and nothing else, it is a “crap shoot” at best. There are no federal or state regulations that require listing sludge as a component in bagged compost. Bagged fertilizer most often has the word “compost” somewhere on the label. There are no requirements by the EPA to list sewage sludge or biosolids as an ingredient in the material. If a bag lists the ingredient only as “compost” you can bet this is composted Class A sewage sludge.
Soil is like a filter, naturally trying to sift out contaminants that can damage humans, animals, water and the environment. When our families play in that “filter”, whether playing baseball or playing golf, we touch and breather that contamination. These effects are known, no mystery of why we have such overwhelming health and environmental problems.
According to studies done by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) soil contamination through ingestion poses a particularly toxic risk to children, especially under the age of six. Lead can be a common soil contaminant, is found along with other heavy metals in sewage sludge and builds in the soil – as a “heavy metal” it does not wash away or dilute. Dioxin, a recognized cancer causing agent, also adsorbs into soils. Flame retardants found in every sludge sample nationally, distort the endocrine system, affecting brain function, reproduction and physical body weight.
The ATSDR specifically lists soil contamination to include, “Municipal wastewater and associated biosolids.” Recognized chemical contaminants range from heavy metals like mercury to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to relatively new emerging contaminants. Sediments and soils gather the chemical contaminants and combine with microbial pathogens, bacteria, viruses and pharmaceuticals. Emerging contaminants include endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that might be found in soil, may come from municipal wastewater, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and other sources. What does that mean? ATSDR breaks the contamination issues down this way:
“ Affected Organ Systems: Dermal (Skin), Developmental (effects during periods when organs are developing) , Endocrine (Glands and Hormones), Hepatic (Liver), Immunological (Immune System), Neurological (Nervous System)
Chemical Classification: Dioxins, Furans, PCBs (contain phenyl rings of carbon atoms), Pesticides (chemicals used for killing pests, such as rodents, insects, or plants)
Summary: Polychlorinated biphenyls are mixtures of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds (known as congeners). There are no known natural sources of PCBs. PCBs are either oily liquids or solids that are colorless to light yellow. Some PCBs can exist as a vapor in air. PCBs have no known smell or taste.”
Research by NYU Langone Medical Center, sited in a October 2016 report by CNN, puts the cost of chemical toxicity at $340 billion a year. This chemical exposure includes ingestion of endocrine-disrupting chemical like flame retardants. Regular exposure to these chemicals from multiple locations and sources adds up to the huge annual price tag of $340 billion but more importantly, contamination adds up to our children’s long-term health. The largest single cost comes from chemical effects on children’s developing brains. Long term impacts for any person includes poor health, increased medical bills, lost income and our quality of life all of which ultimately impact our everyday lives.
If government bureaucracies recognize that contaminants found in sewage sludge/biosolids waste contain chemical mixtures that will hurt our children and the environment they life in, why are we fooled into applying it to our landscapes and gardens?
Air Quality & Your Health: Hold Your Breath!
One major concern for home gardeners, home owners and anyone working with bulk, bagged or spread sludge/biosolids fertilizer is the dust particles that rise from movement and disturbance of the product. Dust contamination also comes from locations where dried sludge/biosolids is spread on larger tracts of land, like playgrounds, golf courses or homes living near where sludge/biosolids are being spread on farm fields. Air borne contamination is hard to track but just as dangerous as touching or ingesting waste.
Antibiotic resistance can be transferred via soils, introducing bacterial strains like MRSA and E.coli that cannot be killed. Irrigating lawns and playgrounds with “recycled” waters also introduces bacterial, viral and chemical contamination to your home, garden and community. In cold climates, be aware that ski lodges and resorts can make snow with “recycled” water. Fine mist and moisture carrying contamination love our lungs.
Safety rules for sewage sludge are outdated and useless. Scientists from Yale University found: “ One goal of these regulations was to lower the risk of infection for people living or working in areas near treated lands. In those areas, people may breathe in Salmonella, enteroviruses, and other pathogens contained in the dust blown off biosolid-treated lands.”
A recent 2000 Audit Report by the Office of Inspector General of the EPA Biosolids Management and Enforcement notes that the, “EPA does not have an effective program for ensuring compliance with the land application requirements of Part 503. Accordingly, while EPA promotes land application, EPA cannot assure the public that current land application practices are protective of human health and the environment.” When waste analyses includes noroviruses, the yearly risk for infection via inhalation rises dramatically, to at least 1 in 1,000. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), noroviruses cause more than half of all foodborn gastroenteritis outbreaks in the U.S.
The risks of infection from well-known microbes is no mystery. Researchers have found that people who inhale dust 30 meters away from land treated with sewage sludge would have a median yearly probability of infection by enteroviruses of around 1 in 1,000,000. Enteroviruses can cause illnesses ranging from common colds to meningitis. This study demonstrates that testing for pathogens is “behind the times,” says Michael Hansen, senior scientist with the nonprofit Consumer Union. When the EPA and other regulation bureaucracies ignore emerging pathogens, underestimating the risk, toxic industrial chemicals like flame retardants, as well as pharmaceuticals excreted from the body, such as birth control drugs and antibiotics contaminate the soil as well as the air we breath.
In the 1996 article in Nature Magazine, Dr. David Lewis, a microbiologist at the EPA, wrote about the agency’s science “gridlock” and used the issue of the promotion of sewage sludge/biosolids as an example. Sighting political pressure and court-imposed deadlines on scientists when the agency finalized its sludge rules in 1992, Dr. Lewis and others industry-resistant scientists dismissed the bureaucracy labeling of “sludge magic” that contaminants “disappear” with treatment.
Dr. Lewis and supporting scientists highlighted the danger and contamination to human health in their 2000 study, “ Interactions of Pathogens and Irritant Chemicals in Land-Applied Sewage Sludges (Biosolids). “ This study noted that, “ When assessing public health risks from applying sewage sludges in residential areas, potential interactions of chemical contaminants with low levels of pathogens should be considered. An increased risk of infection may occur when allergic and non-allergic reactions to endotoxins and other chemical components irritate skin and mucus membranes and thereby compromise normal barriers to infection.”
These health affects include,” Irritation (e.g., skin rashes and burning of the eyes, throat, and lungs) after exposure to winds blowing from treated fields. A prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus infections of the skin and respiratory tract was found. Approximately 1 in 4 of 54 individuals were infected, including 2 mortalities (septicaemia, pneumonia). This result was consistent with the prevalence of S. aureus infections accompanying diaper rashes in which the organism, which is commonly found in the lower human colon, tends to invade irritated or inflamed tissue.”
From the CDC website, information about the dangers of flame retardants when airborne, including Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE): “ People can be exposed to PBDEs and PBBs by eating contaminated foods, especially those with a high fat content, such as fatty fish. Another source of exposure results from breathing contaminated air or swallowing contaminated dust. These chemicals can get into the air, water, and soil during their manufacture; they can leak from products that contain them or escape when the products that contain them break down. They do not dissolve easily in water; they stick to particles and settle to the bottom of rivers or lakes. Some PBDEs can build up in certain fish and mammals when they eat contaminated food or water.”
Contamination On Your Lawn, Your School & Your Playground
Unfortunately, sewage sludge/biosolids is marketed to the gardens and landscapes via the locations that we trust the most, including the Obama Gardens at the White House in Washington, DC and to schools where our children are introduced to the joys of gardening. Buyer beware – many “natural” lawn care companies are also sewage sludge/biosolids based products, with gentle, enticing names to lure the home owner into unconsciously contaminating your home surrounding for the sake of a green lawn.
Independent testing commissioned by the Food Rights Network found toxic contaminants in San Francisco’s sewage sludge “compost” give-away to school and urban gardens as “organic compost” are contaminants with endocrine-disruptive properties including polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE), flame retardants, nonylphenol detergent breakdown products, and the antibacterial agent triclosan. The independent tests were conducted for the Food Rights Network by Dr. Robert C. Hale of the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences.
Organizations such as Center for Media and Democracy (CDM) highlight this slight-of-hand by calling out companies like Kellogg Garden Products. CMD and others criticize the marketing of sewage sludge for use in “organic” school children’s gardens. Kellogg Garden Products produces and sells garden products that say “organic” or “compost” on bags containing material from Los Angeles and Inland Empire sewage sludge from the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority. Since the start of its school garden program in 2009, school districts have been unknowingly putting sewage sludge on their organic urban and school yard gardens.
Another example of exposure to contaminants found in sewage sludge at outdoor parks and public places was in 2009 at the popular Austin, Texas music festival. Months before tens of thousands of concert goers attended the annual Austin City Limits festival, the concert park grounds were spread with a sewage sludge fertilizer called Dillo Dirt. Unfortunately, it rained the weekend of the festival, turning the grounds into a huge mud pit with the consistency of pudding. One concert-goer described the smell like the smell of “pig manure.” Following the event, several attendees reported rashes and other health problems that they believe were contracted from coming in contact with the churned up human and industrial waste.
Dillo Dirt is a product sold as fertilizer but made from sewage sludge by the City of Austin Water Utility. Hundreds of communities across the U.S. sell toxic sludge products that are typically renamed “biosolids” and sold or given away as “fertilizer” or “compost” (and often even labeled or marketed as “natural” or “organic”). The sludge-based fertilizer, marketed to unsuspecting gardeners and landscapers, is an income stream for the city of Austin and all municipalities as a cheap way to dispose of their sewage waste.
“The city of Austin, Texas composts biosolids with wood chips, yard wastes, and sawdust. The resulting product is called Dillo Dirt. Dillo Dirt is sold to vendors under contract with the city. The vendors include topsoil companies, nurseries, garden suppliers, landscapers, and a turf farm. The demand for Dillo Dirt far exceeds the available supply.”
The city of Austin markets its sewage sludge as “organic” compost. The sludge qualifies for “unrestricted use,” which means it has been “cleared” for use even on vegetable gardens (although there used to be a warning printed on the bag suggesting gardeners not use it on vegetable gardens).
Across America, there are some 265 facilities that handle and market hazardous sludge, many of them are attempting to market sewage sludge as “compost.” Is your park, playground, schoolyard or athletic field a dumping ground for our modern and toxic sewage sludge waste?
Get That Crap Out of My Yard!
Just because it makes plants grow green, doesn’t mean it should be put on our landscapes. “Fertilizers” that contain sewage sludge/biosolids can legally be spread or sold on the landscape where you and your family play. This exposes your family to everything that went down the drain of every industry, hospital and household. Your family should not be part of the “risk assessment” of waste disposal.
When your children play in soils and breath the air where sewage sludge is spread as a fertilizer, they are getting direct exposure to our modern, toxic waste. When your food can be grown on land that has been treated with sewage sludge, you consume whatever the plant takes up from the soil. When you consume animals that are fed crops grown in sewage sludge, elements like heavy metals collect in the animal’s meat, milk and fat. Gardeners and grower have the right to know what he or she is putting on his or her fields and gardeners when they buy compost or fertilizer.
If sludge is not spread on land or sold as fertilizer under brand names like Milorganite, Dillo Dirt, Nitrohumus, and Baystate Organic, what should be done with it?
The first step is to limit its production. The regulators that set the levels of contamination in our environment do not differentiate between risk, which is an event with a known probability, and true uncertainty. Environmental contaminants in municipal sludge pose true uncertainty about the dangers they impart on human and ecological health.
Take industry off the public sewer systems and do not sewer additional communities. Safe, culturally acceptable, and economical alternatives to conventional sewers exist. Use them. The Clean Water Act mandates billions of dollars for sewering. Instead, use this money to refine alternative technologies, No public relations spin, earnest proclamations, regulations, recycling claims, or good intentions can change that.
Contact commercial food distributors and ask for their pledge to be sludge free. Keep asking questions. Protect your family, pets and home garden by using sludge-free fertilizer. Tell your local officials you do not want sludge/biosolids on your parks and playgrounds. Tell your state and federal elected officials to change the laws – sewage sludge doesn’t belong in our food, water and communities.
- How Does Your Garden Grow? handout
- Home & Garden Simply Put
- Bagged Fertilizer & Lawn Care Companies
- Sludge-free Compost
Researcher: Chemical toxicity costs US $340 billion per year.
Routine exposure to these chemicals adds up to annual costs in excess of $340 billion — a whopping price tag that comes in the form of poor health, increased medical bills and lost income. The largest single cost comes from chemical effects on children’s developing brains.
Posted: 5:34 PM, October 17, 2016 Updated: 2:27 AM, October 18, 2016
Don’t Be Duped by the Sewage Sludge Industry’s “Compost”
“Greenwash” sewage sludge with “organic” school gardens! Some of Hollywood’s “green” celebrities — Rosario Dawson and a bevy of starlets — thought they were promoting organic school gardens for inner-city kids. But the Environmental Media Association (EMA) teamed them up with a secretive corporation, Kellogg Garden Products, whose main business is selling Los Angeles sewage sludge products!
Submitted by Lisa Graves on May 3, 2011 – 3:32pm
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) – CDC
Note: PBDE’s and PBB’s are flame retardants, which are found in every sample of sewage sludge in national tests. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) belong to a class of chemicals that are added to certain manufactured products in order to reduce the chances that the products will catch on fire.Human health effects from PBDEs and PBBs at low environmental exposures are unknown. In animal studies, these chemicals have shown some effects on the thyroid and liver, as well as on brain development.
Deca-BDE concentrations in pine and cedar needles are correlated with land application of treated sewage sludge
Deca-BDE, a polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)-based flame retardant , is persistent, widespread in the environment, and abundant in treated sewage sludge (TSS) from some wastewater treatment plants. Concentrations of Deca-BDE were elevated in pine needles samples near sites where TSS with high source concentrations was land-applied. This provides direct evidence that chemical contaminants from TSS land application can migrate into neighboring communities.
Wing: Akita; Serre; Hale; Luellen; November 17, 2014 : American Public Health Association
Drugs, Chemicals Seep Deep into Soil from Sewage Sludge
The widespread use of biosolids could contaminate groundwater near farms with a variety of chemicals, including anti-depressants such as Prozac and hormone-disrupting compounds in antibacterial soaps. The findings suggest that the widespread use of biosolids could contaminate groundwater near farms with a variety of chemicals, including anti-depressants such as Prozac and hormone-disrupting compounds in antibacterial soaps.
May 12, 2014 | By Brian Bienkowski and Environmental Health News |
Parents and environmental activists concerned about sewage sludge fields near schools
Alamance County parents, pointing out three schools—Sylvan Elementary in Snow Camp, Pleasant Grove Elementary in Burlington and B. Everett Jordan Elementary in the Saxapahaw area—sit within a half-mile of biosolid operations.
By Billy Ball @billy_k_ball; May 22, 2013 News » North Carolina
Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Examines the Failures of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
House Science and Technology Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to examine the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
“The Subcommittee has heard from many sources examples of jackleg science by ATSDR and their keenness to please industries and government agencies that prefer to minimize public health consequence.”
Press Releases :: March 12, 2009
Safety Rules For Sewage Sludge May Be Outdated
This study demonstrates that testing for pathogens is “behind the times,” worries about sewage sludge’s potential for harboring toxic industrial chemicals like flame retardants, as well as pharmaceuticals excreted from the body, such as birth control drugs and antibiotics. These substances may cause illness if they are absorbed by crops and enter the food supply, but none are being tested for or removed from sludge.
By Emily Gertz; June 15, 2011;Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347; Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society
Case for Caution Revisited: Health and Environmental Impacts of Application of Sewage Sludges to Agricultural Land
Protecting agricultural soils requires anticipating and avoiding potential harms since once contaminated with persistent pollutants, the damage will remain for the foreseeable future. Once contaminated, stopping the application of pollutants such as metals and many organic chemicals that are in sewage biosolids will not correct the problem.
Harrison; McBride; Posted at: cwmi.css.cornell.edu/case.pdf September 2008 (updated March 2009)
Sludge Tested as Lead Poisoning Fix in Poor Black Neighborhoods
Lawmakers and the NAACP are calling for an investigation into reports that federally funded scientific experiments in 2000 spread sewage sludge on yards in poor black neighborhoods to test if it could fight lead poisoning in children.
April 23, 2008
Austin’s Dirty Secret: Dillo Dirt
A Google search for “ACL 2009” brings up images of people completely coated in a creamy, muddy slop. Before the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2009, the City redid the Zilker turf, adding a city-made fertilizing product called Dillo Dirt. What is Dillo Dirt? According to the City, it’s compost made from recycled materials: safe and environmentally green. But really, it’s one of the end points for human shit and industrial pollutants that get flushed into Austin’s sewage system.
by Brandon Roberts; 31 July 2011
Low doses, big effects: Scientists seek ‘fundamental changes’ in testing, regulation of hormone-like chemicals
Small doses can have big health effects. This study, three years in the making, studied hormone-altering chemicals. One of the biggest, longest-lasting controversies about these chemicals is whether the tiny doses that most people are exposed to are harmful.
By Marla Cone: Environmental Health News; March 15, 2012
Human and soil bacteria swap antibiotic-resistance genes
Soil bacteria and bacteria that cause human diseases have recently swapped at least seven antibiotic-resistance genes
Washington University School of Medicine
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012 – 14:05 in Biology & Nature
What’s Lurking in Your Soap? The Trouble with Triclosan
Triclosan can create more potent strains of bacteria, increasing antibacterial and antibiotic resistance.
12.9.09; A joint project of Food & Water Watch and Beyond Pesticides
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