Wednesday 2 January 2019

Farmers & Ranchers - Are you thinking about using "biosolids" on your soils as a fertilizer / soil amendment?

Thinking about using "biosolids" on your soils as a soil amendment? 

Some things you might want to be aware of before you make that leap of faith …

1. Microplastics - "Sewage sludge microplastics could pollute soil for thousands of years" "43% of microplastics that go down the drain eventually end up applied to agricultural land as biosolids."

2. Antibiotic residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria - - "spreading of sewage sludge leads to a significant increase of ARG in the soil"

3. Unregulated / untested pollutants - "the EPA (listing 352 serious toxins in biosolids) cannot determine whether biosolids pollutants, with incomplete risk assessments, are safe"

4. Switzerland has completely banned the use of biosolids on agricultural soils 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"

5. Swedish Government- "since biosolids contain environmental and health hazardous substances, drug residues and microplastics, our task force will propose a ban on spreading sewage sludge on farmland"

6. German Environment Agency - "With the precautionary principle and in light of the pollutants found in biosolids, we deem the agricultural use of biosolids to be a serious public health & environmental hazard & advocate that this practice be phased out"

7.  Prof. Murray McBride, Cornell University - "Once contaminated, stopping the application of pollutants such as metals and many organic chemicals that are in sewage biosolids will not correct the problem. The contamination will remain for decades or centuries"

8. Prof. Jordan Peccia- Yale University - "biosolids contain heavy metals, hazardous organic chemicals, microbial pathogens, and antibiotic resistant bacteria ...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."

9. Plant uptake of pollutants is not just a theoretical possibility; it has been demonstrated in various papers since the 1980s

10. Risk - assessments have only been done on a tiny fraction of pollutants in sewage sludge & no assessments look at the synergies between the thousands of toxins, nor at the cumulative effect of being exposed to multiple pollutants over time.

Long-term exposure to chemicals in sewage sludge fertilizer alters liver lipid content in females and cancer marker expression in males
  "this study shows that chronic EC exposure, via sewage sludge, at concentrations and complexity relevant to humans, induces persistent xenotoxicant responses in the liver, disrupts a large portion of the observable liver proteome and affects lipid levels and the expression of liver cancer markers, all of which are likely to affect many body systems. Our observations support the existing data showing that low-level EC exposure is a significant contributor to abnormal liver physiology"
"Our results demonstrate that chronic exposure to ECs causes major physiological changes in the liver, likely to affect multiple systems in the body and which may predispose individuals to increased disease risks"
"The increased incidence of diseases, including metabolic syndrome and infertility, may be related to exposure to the mixture of chemicals, which are ubiquitous in the modern environment (environmental chemicals, ECs). Xeno-detoxification occurs within the liver which is also the source of many plasma proteins and growth factors and plays an important role in the regulation of homeostasis."

For more on RISK see -

For more on uptake of toxins into plants - and then into the food chain ….

"Biosolids" (or more properly, sewage sludge) is after all  the "stuff" taken out of the wastewater within these treatment facilities, in order to clean the water - purify it of its pollutants as much as possible, before the water is released back into the environment. This "stuff" therefore represents the collected and concentrated toxic waste eliminated from the liquid stream. It is a mirror of modern urban life - a goulash comprised of myriad pollutants - the remains of everything we flush away - cleaners, pharmaceuticals, dyes, solvents, microplastics and microfibers, fire retardants - you name it.  As Prof. Murray McBride, of Cornell University, says, it is "a material containing unknown concentrations of thousands of chemicals with undetermined toxicities."
There are more and more scientific studies demonstrating how using this sewage waste as a fertilizer can have serious consequences for the animals grazing on those lands -
1. Study from a group of UK scientists-
2. Study from the USA -
3. Study from Scotland -
4. More background information on plant "uptake" of toxins -