Friday, 24 May 2019

New research looks pretty bad for biosolids -

New research looks pretty bad for biosolids -  Publications from just this past year 

1. Root uptake of toxins -

"Determination of nanoparticle uptake, distribution and characterization in plant root tissue after realistic long term exposure to sewage sludge"
"In the past 15 years, the use of nanoparticles (NP) in daily life and medical products has constantly increased.
As a consequence, NPs cause major concern as a potential contaminant of the environment, e.g. through waste water, deposition or precipitation. Furthermore, the uptake of NPs by agricultural plants is also relevant for
human exposure … our study proved that particle uptake in plant roots is an important issue also under realistic exposure conditions ... the presented data are relevant for human exposure by consumption of root crops."

2. Germination and growth issues after biosolids

"The application of agricultural sewage sludge alone results in a major input of plastic particles into agricultural soils, estimated to be between 63,000 and 430,000 and 44,000–300,000 tons per year of microplastics (<5 mm) in the EU and North-America farmlands, respectively"
"Seed germination rate was significantly reduced for all three sized plastics … This suggests that clogging of the pores with plastic particles might inhibit water uptake and thus delay germination. Given we observed increasingly pronounced effects with the increased size of the plastic, the delay in germination might be caused by physical blocking. We also observed a change in root growth after 24 h of exposure, with a decrease in root growth when exposed to 50 nm particles, and an increase when exposed to 500 nm plastic particles."
"To conclude, we present the first study on adsorption, uptake and the phytotoxicity of nano- and microplastics to a vascular terrestrial plant. The results from the present study demonstrate that plastics particles adsorb particularly on the root hairs. Exposure to plastic particles results in short-term and transient effects on germination rate and root growth. Given our limited understanding of the impact of nano- and microplastics in terrestrial systems, it is key to conduct studies on nano- and microplastics loads, uptake, and effects on terrestrial systems."

3. Grazing animals affected by biosolids pollutants - 

"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."

4. Problems with Chemical Mixtures in Low Dose (almost a perfect definition for "biosolids")

Two things of importance here in relation to sewage sludge / biosolids -
1. Biosolids / sewage sludge is one of the most "pollutant-rich" materials on earth - with tens of thousands of toxins contained within it … mostly in "small dose"
2. All regulations (EPA, or OMRR etc) base their "risk" assessments, and statements of "safety" on ONLY single pollutant toxicity measures - in other words on incomplete and out-of-date science.

5. Microplastics in Biosolids problematic

"Microplastics are emerging as a steadily increasing environmental threat … Treatment plants are essentially taking the microplastics out of the waste water and concentrating them in the sludge … Our results indicate that microplastic counts increase over time where successive sludge applications are performed. Microplastics observed in soil samples stress the relevance of sludge as a driver of soil microplastic contamination."

6. Microplastics Can Change Soil Properties and Affect Plant Performance
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"PES is the most commonly reported type of environmental microplastic, including its presence in sewage sludge used as an agricultural amendment … pervasive microplastic contamination may have consequences for agroecosystems and general terrestrial biodiversity." 

7. Spreading Sewage Sludge / "biosolids" MEANS spreading Antimicrobial Resistance

"It was reported that almost half of all antibiotics were released in rivers through wastewater effluents and the practice of manure and sludge land spreading"
"There are various sources of antibiotics in the aquatic environment. Wastewater from residential facilitates, hospitals, animal husbandry and the pharmaceutical industry is considered as the main source of antibiotics. The antibiotics taken by humans or animals cannot be fully metabolized, and consequently enter sewage or manure via excreted urine or feces. Since antibiotics can only be partially removed in wastewater treatment plants, the antibiotic residues will be discharged into the aquatic environment. Other important sources of antibiotics in the environment include the manure and sludge used in agricultural sites, as well as discarded pharmaceuticals, sludge and solid waste of the pharmaceutical industry in landfills "
"It is notable that the antibiotics were found in surface water and groundwater which serve as drinking sources. This gives rise to the concern that antibiotics may occur in drinking water and threaten human health. After all, the conventional drinking water treatment processes were proved not to be effective in removing all antibiotics"

8. "Endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in the plastics can leak out and adversely affect soil." fbclid=IwAR3mGHmGJDsZA9q_7ICQEXj3xOUBYT-E5IvLferb6MBkr5OM6bDGW_EKBAY

"Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Associate Professor Martyn Futter told Australia’s ABC that people are failing to consider what happens to these biosolids after they’re used on land. He said that the endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in the plastics can leak out and adversely affect soil."

9. More microplastic issues

" The findings of this study indicate that the behavior of plastic particles in the soil not only disrupts the movement of springtails but also has wider implications for effective management of soils."
"In this study, we investigated the responses of soil-dwelling organisms (springtails) to soils contaminated with various particulate plastics. The springtails showed lower mobility in plastic-contaminated soils. Springtail behaviors were associated with the fate of plastic particles in the soil pores, and we observed that, in turn, plastic particles showed certain patterns of mobility in response to springtail behavior."

10.  Pharmaceuticals discharge in the environment
via the excretion of pharmaceuticals by humans

" the largest source of pharmaceuticals discharge in the environment is the excretion of pharmaceuticals by humans and animals, estimated to be about 90% of total emissions. These emissions enter the environment mainly via urban wastewater, sewage sludge, and manure."

11. Microplastics on land
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"The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recently found that concentrated levels of microplastics are more likely to be found in sewage sludge applied as fertiliser than in our oceans."

12. Microplastic Problems

“We have identified diverse sources of microplastics to the environment from ‘intentional uses’ in cosmetics, detergents, other household products, paints, and agricultural uses, amongst others. Many of these microplastics are washed down the drain at the point of use and because of how wastewater in the EU is treated, these microplastics will not typically be released directly to aquatic environments, but are likely to concentrate in sewage sludge that is then frequently applied to agricultural soils as a fertiliser,” he said.
The agency estimates that 43% of microplastics that go down the drain eventually end up applied to agricultural land as biosolids.
Microplastics are also an ingredient in some fertilisers and plant protection products, Simpson added, exacerbating the problem. Their extreme persistence, with half-lives put in the thousands of years, means that “we currently cannot assess the risks to the environment resulting from such long-term accumulation and exposure.”
In January, the European Commission asked ECHA to consider whether an EU-wide restriction on intentionally-added microplastics would be justified. This would go far beyond a ban on them in wash-off personal care products, which is now in force across the UK. The US, France, Italy and Sweden have similar bans in place, while the EU cosmetics industry has undertaken voluntary measures."

13. EPA can no longer assure public that "biosolids" are safe

"The EPA’s website, public documents and biosolids labels do not explain the full spectrum of pollutants in biosolids and the uncertainty regarding their safety. Consequently, the biosolids program is at risk of not achieving its goal to protect public health and the environment."
"The EPA’s controls over the land application of sewage sludge (biosolids) were incomplete or had weaknesses and may not fully protect human health and the environment. The EPA consistently monitored biosolids for nine regulated pollutants. However, it lacked the data or risk assessment tools needed to make a determination on the safety of 352 pollutants found in biosolids. The EPA identified these pollutants in a variety of studies from 1989 through 2015. Our analysis determined that the 352 pollutants include 61 designated as acutely hazardous, hazardous or priority pollutants in other programs"

14. New publication from Germany highlights problems with Antibiotic Resistance
and how it relates to Sewage Sludge applied to soils -

"If sewage sludge from waste water treatment plants is applied to soil, active substances can find their way onto fields and meadows. Antibiotics can also enter the groundwater from rivers, lakes and streams or via the soil"
"It is evident that waste water from hospitals and waste water treatment plants can contain high concentrations of antibiotics. In addition, many antibiotic substances accumulate in the sewage sludge, which is a pollutant sink in the waste water treatment plant"
"Sewage sludge is a reservoir for ARB and ARG. High bacterial densities and sufficient nutrient contents provide the ideal conditions for the adaptation of bacteria through horizontal gene transfer processes. In particular, substances with a selective impact such as antibiotics, but also heavy metals for example, bring growth benefits for resistant bacteria and therefore support the dissemination of ARG. The storage conditions of sewage sludge as well as the high nutrient content and high bacterial density also support the propagation of these resistant bacteria. When used as fertilizers, both the antibiotic residues and ARB reach the soil, thus ARB can be directly spread further in the environment"
"A study by UBA examined the occurrence of resistance genes in the case of the presence of different antibiotics as a consequence of the use of sewage sludge in agriculture and the horizontal dissemination of these ARG. The results show that the spreading of sewage sludge leads to a significant increase of ARG in the soil, and that these ARG can be proven to exist in the soil over an extended period of time. It is also possible for multi-resistant soil bacteria to be transferred to potential pathogens."

15. More on  Antibiotic Resistance & Sewage Sludge

"Complexities in understanding antimicrobial resistance across domesticated animal, human, and environmental systems"
"growing data suggest that ARB and ARGs may be dispersed by wild birds after exposure to sewage near rivers, spreading of sewage sludge onto farmland" 

"The origin of microplastic particles is difficult to determine; they may come from environmental sources, including water, waste treatment sludge used as fertilizers, and processing and packaging ...Microplastics are resistant to degradation. Laboratory experiments have shown that micro- and nanoplastics can be transported from prey to predator and suggest that plastic-associated chemical additives and contaminants could also be passed through the food chain"
"Sewage entering municipal treatment systems is high in microfibers from textiles, microplastics from personal care products, and degradants of consumer products. Between 80 and 90 percent of microplastics entering treatment systems remain in residual sewage sludge.This sludge is often used as fertilizer in agriculture, resulting in plastic being deposited on agricultural fields where it can remain for long periods of time. To understand the significance of sewage sludge as a source of microplastic pollution, one study estimated that sewage sludge accounts for 63,000–43,000 and 44,000–300,000 tons of microplastics to be added annually to European and US farmland, respectively. Based on a recent study, microplastics can persist in soils for more than 100 years, due to low light and oxygen conditions"
"One health concern regarding plastic in soils is the potential transfer of toxic chemicals to crops and animals. The plastic industry is a major source of chemical additives reaching the environment. Some of these additives, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDEs), and bisphenol A have been found in fresh vegetables and fruit"
" Earthworms that encounter polyurethane particles in soils can accumulate PBDEs. Earthworms are important to maintain healthy ecosystems and soils, particularly in agricultural regions. Worms aerate the soil through burrowing, process detritus, move the soil, and are a key food source for other animals. It is possible that PBDEs could be transferred in worms to other areas of soil and through the food web."