"Biosolids" … the reality … without the PR spin …
Prof. Murray McBride, Cornell University - "Is it reasonable to conclude that there is little or no risk of land-applying a material (biosolids) containing unknown concentrations of thousands of chemicals with undetermined toxicities?" ... "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"
Prof. Jordan Peccia- Yale University - " biosolids contain heavy metals, hazardous organic chemicals, microbial pathogens, and antibiotic resistant bacteria ... polybrominated flame retardants, pharmaceuticals like Prozac and Tagamet, human hormones such as estrogen, antibiotics, narcotics"
Lidia Epp (manager of the Molecular Core Lab in the Biology Department of College of William and Mary in Williamsburg) "It is evident that the long term exposure to a host of the environmental pollutants is the foundation of many chronic conditions that are now at the epidemic levels. Rather than focusing narrowly on determination of specific sets of toxins present in biosolids from different sources – the research needs to shift to the epidemiological studies assessing the overall impact of complex mix of pollutants present in sludge."
Dr Andrew Singer (Microbiologist, Oxford) - "That sludge has e-coli in it, plus antibiotics, plus biocides, plus metals - all of that breeds something called an antibiotic resistant bacteria. So as you are maybe rambling through a field that's been amended with this sludge, either last week or a year later, there is an elevated risk that you will - or your pet will - acquire this antibiotic resistant bacteria, carry it home with you, the dog licks you in the face, you have it. This is how it is transmitted. It is a rare event, but unfortunately rare events matter on a global scale, so you only need these rare events to happen once for it then to become important for the world. So you’re effectively disseminating [in the environment] the very thing we should be trying to eliminate.”
Controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance was “one of the highest global priorities in the world,” he added. “There is virtually no higher priority than this, other than maybe climate change, and it is a seemingly routine occurrence that we are spreading this onto our land.”
Prof. Claudia Gunsch, Duke University "As industry invents new materials and chemicals for modern products, many find their way to our skin and bloodstream and, subsequently, into our sinks and toilet bowls. More than 500 different organic chemicals have been identified in the biosolids used as fertilizer across the United States."
Dr. Sierra Rayne (microbiologist) - "The science doesn't support the disposal of sewage sludge across the landscape. The supposed benefits are more than offset by the risks to human and environmental health. As scientists, we have been watching the issue with increasing concern. An unimaginably large number of chemical and biological contaminants exist in these materials, and they persist in the product up to, and after, land disposal. Scientific investigations have identified only a tiny fraction of the total contaminant load. We cannot even say with any degree of confidence what the true range of contaminant risk is from the sludge ... Governments are playing Russian roulette with sewage sludge. Over time, there is a high probability this game will be lost at the public's expense."
Professor Alistair Boxall (University of York) , said sewage sludge contains "a real mixture of things ... It will contain microplastics, it will contain persistent organic pollutants, it will contain metals, it'll contain pharmaceuticals. We have no idea of how those work in combination to affect our health and also affect ecosystem health."
Brian Bienkowski (Scientific American - May 12, 2014) - "Sewage sludge used as fertilizer on farms can leave traces of prescription drugs and household chemicals deep in the soil, according to a new study by federal scientists. 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 ...The researchers looked for 57 “emerging” contaminants that are increasingly showing up in the environment. Ten were detected in the soil at depths between 7 and 50 inches 18 months after the treated sludge was applied. None was in the field’s soil beforehand... Other studies have found hormones, detergents, fragrances, drugs, disinfectants, and plasticizers in treated sludge used as fertilizer. But this is the first study to show how they can persist and move in soil."
Dr. Richard Honour (microbiologist) - ""Few in any governments appreciate that nearly all chronic diseases are caused by long-term exposure to low levels of environmental contaminants and pollutants. We should be trying to minimize this exposure, not amplifying it. It is time to end land disposal of Toxic Sewer sludge, and look at cleaner, greener alternatives - gasification / pyrolysis."
Laura Orlando (Boston University civil engineer) believes a ban on land application is in order. “Everything we have that’s being manufactured in our society ends up in our sewer and it’s going to be in the sludge, so I think we should take land application out of the equation while we figure out what to do with it,” she said.
Dr. Thomas Maler (biochemistry) -"it seems obvious that application of sewage sludge/biosolids on the land is not the answer to dispose of these toxins and pathogens. Disposal of the sludge mixed with municipal solids waste or with wood chips in a gasifier is the only safe way to go because it completely destroys the toxic chemicals and pathogens. Not putting this toxic soup on the land is the only way of protecting our environment and that’s the primary reason for treating our sewage in the first place"
Dr. Caroline Snyder (emeritus professor, Rochester Institute of Technology) - "Land application is not "recycling"; it is simply transferring a complex mixture of toxic chemicals and pathogens from our large industrialized urban centers to arable farms; nor is the practice "strictly regulated." Current biosolids management is highly energy intensive using fossil fuel for processing and transportation, thus - actually adding greenhouse gas emissions (on top of all the pollution produced by hauling these materials all over). Finally, it is ludicrous to claim that using the nation's arable soils as a repository of persistent toxic chemicals, many of which bioaccumulate in the food chain, "enhances soil health".”
Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment - "biosolids application may be causing persistent, pernicious and almost totally ignored contamination of agricultural land"
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" https://bit.ly/2Fc6ObP
The 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" https://bit.ly/2PRKdFk
The 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" https://bit.ly/2SXfLIQ