A response to the Sylvis LAP (Land Application Plan) for spreading sewer sludge aka “biosolids” or aka “beneficial residuals” on a ranch near Kamloops –
Sylvis uses two main sources to support its LAP’s for spreading sewer sludge on farms and ranchlands. They are outdated – one a dozen years old, and the other a shocking 25 years old!
Here is what Sylvis says - “Studies summarized by Sopper (1993) provide several examples of successful soil conditioning, improvement of soil physical properties, and subsequent increases in crop production which were achieved through addition of biosolids to soil.”
Note that Sylvis foregrounds soil properties rather than focusing on the more important issue: how this dumping of sewer sludge aka “biosolids” makes these fields into toxic waste sites.
Here is the recent science they don’t give you -
To begin with please note that because of its deleterious effect on soils, Switzerland (2003) completely banned the use of sewer sludge aka "biosolids" on agricultural soils. They took this stand because of "the risk of irreversible damage to the soil, the danger to public health and possible negative effects on the quality of the food farmers produce." ... "the precautionary principle has absolute priority in soil protection." (see - https://www.admin.ch/…/docu…/media-releases.msg-id-1673.html )
Scientific Journal Articles -
“Metals and organic chemicals that resist biological mineralization can sorb to solid particles and also accumulate in sludge. These include polybrominated flame retardants, pharmaceuticals like Prozac and Tagamet, human hormones such as estrogen, antibiotics, narcotics including cocaine, and the metabolites of these compounds.” (Professors - Jordan Peccia and Paul Westerhoff Yale University, Arizona State University 2015)
“One class of these thousands of chemicals in sludge/biosolids is called PPCPs or Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products and these compounds are taken up by plants in hundreds of micrograms per kg of plant tissue and nothing is known about the effect of this on the plants and on the animals that consume them including humans. The uptake and metabolism of these thousands of different compounds varies greatly with their composition.” (M. Bartrons, J. Peñuelas, TRPLSC 1514, 12, 2016).
Micro-plastics (becoming increasingly common in biosolids) are synthetic polymers and cannot be broken down by microorganism no matter how long they will sit on the land or in the ocean. They will survive for many hundreds of years without any noticeable degradation and are eaten by fish, plankton and other marine and fresh water animals, (M.L. Taylor et al, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 33997 (2016). As noted, the actual toxicity of the micro-plastics themselves is also increased by absorption of toxic chemicals onto their surface. These polymers can't be broken down/metabolized by any creature that ingests them and so if they are loaded by absorbed toxins, they become even more lethal, (M.A.Browne et al. Current Biology, 2013; 23 (23): 2388).
"The input of organic micro and nano-pollutants into the environment has increased in recent years. Emerging pollutants are defined as new chemicals without regulatory status and which impact on environment and human health are poorly understood. The list of emerging compound classes consists of pharmaceuticals, steroid and hormones, surfactants, flame retardants, industrial additives and agents, gasoline additives. There are two main potential routes of environmental exposure associated with these compounds: the land application of municipal biosolids (typically to agricultural fields) and wastewater use in irrigated agriculture. These pollutants contaminate groundwater, soil and are transferred to plants. Drugs have especially strong influence on soil biota (bacteria, earthworms, and others). In contaminated soil microorganism reaction to these compounds is determined not only by the composition and amount of emerging pollutants but geochemical and environmental factors." (“Soil contamination by organic micropollutants” 2015, Vodyanitskii.)
"This study indicates that some CECs (contaminants of emerging concern, including pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), are sufficiently persistent and mobile to be vertically transported into the soil column following biosolids applications to the land surface, even in semiarid regions" … "Eggen et al. (2011) reported uptake of pharmaceuticals by plants (carrots, wheat and barley cereals, meadow fescue, turnip rape seed) and negative effects on growth and development of carrots; however, the wheat samples from the Colorado study were not analyzed for pharmaceutical CECs. Holling et al. (2012) reported pharmaceutical and triclosan uptake by cabbage roots and aerials." … "Triclosan, a synthetic antimicrobial compound, was persistent in biosolids through the 180 days of sampling (Figure 3). Large concentrations in the first (top) soil interval dissipated little over time." …"Concentrations of 4-nonylphenol (sum of all isomers), a detergent or metabolite, were substantial in the Colorado biosolids (approximately 200 ppm) and persisted through at least 180 days post-application" … "the persistence of this CEC in biosolids and soil indicates the potential for long-term environmental effects." … "A plasticizer and flame retardant, TBEP, was detected in biosolids at relatively small concentrations compared to other CECs but was consistently detected in biosolids through 180 days post-application" … "The results of this study indicate that CECs in biosolids persisted in a real field-application environment. Between 180 and 468 days post-application, select CECs migrated deeper into the soil profile or were taken up by plant roots." … "This study demonstrates that agronomic applications of biosolids result in detectable concentrations of CECs in soil, and that CECs can persist in surficial biosolids and in soil-biosolid mixtures at detectable concentrations on time scales exceeding one year, particularly under the semiarid conditions present at this study site." (“Dissipation of contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids applied to nonirrigated farmland in eastern Colorado.” 2014 Tracy J.B. Yager et al ).
"Accumulation of organic contaminants implies a risk to not only earthworm populations but also many vertebrate species feeding on earthworms. So far information about the accumulation of PFASs by earthworms from soil is quite limited.” … "land application of biosolids not only increases the OM contents, but also results in the accumulation of PFASs in soils." … "Earthworms may take up contaminants from soil and porewater, both through their skin (dermal) and by ingestion (oral). It is assumed that only contaminants that can be released from soil/sediment are available to biological receptors.....The results verified that the soil PFOS and PFOA concentrations and soil OM content ([OM]) are two key factors controlling the bioavailability of PFOS and PFOA in soils." … "These suggested that soil concentration and OM content dominated the bioavailability of PFASs in soils. Soil pH and clay content appeared relatively unimportant for PFOS and PFOA bioavailability....The results of this study demonstrated that contamination of PFOS and PFOA in soils as a result of biosolids land application led to accumulation of PFOS and PFOA in earthworms with higher concentration of PFOS than that of PFOA." “Bioavailability of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in biosolids-amended soils to earthworms (Eisenia fetida)” 2014 Wena, Zhang et al ).
Sylvis assures the ranchers and farmers that “Grazing of transient wildlife will not endanger the animal’s health” (Henry, 2005).
Sylvis uses one study to back this assertion up, while ignoring evidence that states the opposite –
“Small mammals have been shown to accumulate heavy metals after sewage sludge was applied to forest lands. Shrews, shrew-moles, and deer mice absorbed metals from sludge” ("Heavy Metal Accumulation in Small Mammals following Sewage Sludge Application to Forests" by Linda J. Hegstrom and Stephen D. West)
“Insects in the soil absorb toxins, which then accumulate in birds.” ("Uptake of Polychlorobiphenyls Present in Trace Amounts from Dried Municipal Sewage Sludge Through an Old Field Ecosystem" by Thomas S. Davis et.al.)
"The study highlights potential risks associated with the common practice of grazing livestock on pastures on which human sewage sludge-derived fertilizer has been used.” … "More worryingly, since low-level chemical exposure poses a threat to human reproductive development, the consumption of products from animals grazing such pastures may be of considerable environmental concern." (“The fetal ovary exhibits temporal sensitivity to a ‘real-life’ mixture of environmental chemicals” 2016 by Richard G. Lea, Maria R. Amezaga, et al.)
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) & The issue of Prions in Biosolids -
"Normal sewage treatments do not degrade or inactivate prions: “most would partition to activated sludge solids, survive mesophilic anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids."
“CWD is certainly the most contagious prion infection, with infected animals shedding prions from every orifice."
"CWD has been shown to persist and remain infectious in the environment. CWD prions adhere to minerals such as montmorillonite (Mte) in clay-based soils that can dramatically increase infectivity, up to 680 times"
"Transmission of CWD has been shown to occur: animal to animal, soil to animal, plants to animal, soil to plants to animal"
"This underscores the very essence of the precautionary principle, and nowhere is it more requisite than with respect to infectious pathogens. Inadequate policy or regulatory failures can result in pandemics that kill thousands or even millions of people or other animals, causing enormous damage on economies and ecosystems." (by Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary David Clausen, (former) Chair, Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Vince Crichton, (former) Co-Chair, Canada’s National Wildlife Disease Strategy Darrel Rowledge, Director, Alliance for Public Wildlife)
http://www.apwildlife.org/publications/ Download the research at this link.
The choice is yours – you can believe the sludge industry employees who are paid to spread these big city toxic residuals over ranchland and farms, or you can believe independent scientists who, at arm’s length, have no financial gain in this reckless practice.
As the Swiss government has noted, "Soil is a limited, ecologically and economically valuable non-renewable resource. Along with water and air, it is essential for life. … Soil is the final repository for pollutants, which means that chemical pollution is often irreversible …the precautionary principle has absolute priority in soil protection." (https://www.bafu.admin.ch/…/i…/soil-protection-measures.html )