it is returning to the soil that which has been taken from it. very familiar with biosolids, family member runs a waste water plant and have many friends in the water/waste water fields. do not have a problem using such on crop fields, lawns etal.
"Biosolids" are comprised of anything that can be flushed down a toilet, including heavy metals, chemicals and prescription drugs. The EPA is owned and operated by people with deep pockets, and money to make.
I don't know about that outfit in particular, but I do know that I steer clear of the city sludge.
As Sue points out, some folks flush all sorts of toxic gick down the toilet. Further, some people are on some really wicked meds that end up in their poop. And, I cannot help but think that there are some businesses that make stuff that flush some nasty stuff down the loo instead of paying for it to be dealt with properly. All that ends up in the sludge.
i am involved with the testing and spreading of biosolids here (as well as BYM's) while true that some people flush anything down the tube, if it is enough too effect digestion of the biosolids then it will send that batch too the landfill! soil is not sterile (well, good soil aint!) full of bacteria, viruses, antibodies, and heavy metals do play a part in crop production, just like a multi vitamin for animal health some soils need a boost of some metals to optimize their growing capabilities. here at least the parameters for metals fall well below any toxicity levels and while i would not use it in the vegy garden, no problem on field crops, timber tracts or sod crops! if you saw some of the results that come back for pathogens or other contents of BYM you would rethink their use in the garden! one of my friends fathers used to uncap his septic tank come spring and lay a thick layer across his garden and allow it too dry. he would then spade it into the soil and plant his garden. the fellow passed away 2 years ago at 96 leaving behind his 94 year old bride (she is still going strong!) his house was hook too the sewer in 95 and he could no longer avail himself of the fertilizer!
I would be pretty leary of city sludge too. alot of that stuff is likely broken down into its original moleculor componants that aren't that bad but I think it would be difficult to get real trustworthy anwers abouts its safety.
I've done some investigating and come to some conclusions. I appreciate the comments so far and maybe this will stir up more thinking and talking, too. I've decided against using any biosolid / sludge in my yard for these reasons:
1) From what I can tell there is significant controversy about the use of biosolids for growing food, within the scientific community and among farmers and food gardeners. Data is still very much being gathered -- this is a national experiment.
2) Biosolids are not allowed in food designated as "Organic", at least by Oregon and California standards. (USDA has been working on having an unsatisfactorily low bar since the inception of a national organic standard, and they began (before Bush left office -- Nov 08) the process of trying to lower standards once again. For now, though, as far as I know, use of biosolids is still not an acceptable organic practice even for the USDA.)
3) The EPA just initiated a new study (Jan 09) of biosolids. I wonder how that will look under Obama, or even if the study is a result of Obama's presidency, updating and adding to information apparently last gathered in 2003 (Bush). I want good scientific evidence, not hidden agenda driven "facts". I feel more confident that agencies under Obama will give us that, but it's still so early in the game. We have too much of a national habit of pushing problems onto other sectors (like public and environmental health) for me to feel confident of the "evidence" gathered by the Reagan - Bush EPA and other scientific sources.
4) There is, of course, a huge need for proper cradle to grave management of products used by humans. But I think we're pushing the grave over the cradle too much, as in the use of biosolids / sewage sludge. I'd like to see the emphasis be on keeping compounds of concern out of the waste stream in the first place, instead of continuing to pump out harmful chemicals and then spreading them around the world to "re-use our wastes." Unfortunately, the use of sludge gives manufacturers and municipalities an easy out, and you can bet big money / interests are pushing this forward. Just do a google search.
5) I'm currently taking the stance of needing more info. While I like the idea of closing the loop, I'm using the precautionary principle on this, particularly as a homeowner with land I'd like to use for a long time to come. I want to minimize my participation in this national experiment where I have control, starting at my front and back doors. That said, of course we are all stewards of whatever land we inhabit for whatever length of time.
Here are some significant quotes from what I read:
From SourceWatch online: "Biosolids is the name preferred by the lobby association for U.S. sewage treatment plants, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), for sewage sludge. "The WEF, with the support of the Environmental Protection Agency, turned to the disposal of sewage sludge on land after the imposition of bans on ocean disposal and incineration. "However, faced with increasing volumes and problems with landfills, WEF sought to persuade the EPA that instead of treating it as industrial waste it should be used as fertisilizer on farms. However, central to a makeover from toxic waste to beneficial fertilizer, was a name change from sewage sludge to biosolids."
From Jan 09 EPA Fact Sheet on the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey (TNSSS): "Because many chemicals tend to accumulate in sewage sludge during wastewater treatment, EPA initiated the TNSSS to characterize what chemicals may be present in sewage sludge.
"EPA plans to evaluate the pollutants identified by the survey as being present in sewage sludge. As its first priority, using the survey information, EPA has begun assessing the nine pollutants identified from the 2003 biennial review as needing updated concentration information and molybdenum to determine whether additional action may be necessary..... Later this year, EPA expects to initiate evaluations of other pollutants in the survey that may warrant further consideration. The evaluations will depend on the availability of data needed to conduct the evaluations.
"The reader should exercise caution in interpreting these preliminary summaries."
I was especially interested in the blog response by Caroline Snyder, noting especially her comments about conflict of interest, for example, Snyder notices "that Peot does not mention lead, mercury, cadmium, or arsenic. All powerful poisons, and all permitted in sludge."
And finally, the last sentence from an unnamed dissertation that was pro-biosolids: "This is a topic that is of concern for biosolids programs and research is being funded by these programs to assure that the presence of these compounds does not harm the environment." NOTE WHO IS FUNDING THE RESEARCH. It just seems to be a bad idea to assume that those who stand to gain most from particular research outcomes are in the best position to lead the critical scientific charge in the public interest.
Yes, I doubt that there's any 'pure' science anymore. The colleges receive hefty donations from what some of us would consider 'undesirable sources', and those sources are not shy about their manipulations.
the other way you can get a "clean "test is too not tell the tester where it came from! i will submit tissue samples to monitor metal uptake but will not use my name or tell them that the sample is from a sludge field. back 33 years ago it was me taking the samples in college and setting in on the testing phase! that we can treat our excrement better and fully utilize it goes without saying!
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