Monday, 1 October 2018

What the experts say about Sewage Sludge (Biosolids)



Prof. Murray McBride, Cornell University

"Agricultural soils are a unique and valuable resource. Protecting agricultural soils requires anticipating and avoiding potential harms since once contaminated with persistent pollutants, the damage will remain for the foreseeable future.  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.  It is thus critical to prevent this essentially permanent degradation"

"Livestock that graze on sludge-amended pastures ingest biosolids that adhere to the forage plants and also ingest soil directly.  Particularly in arid conditions, soil can be up to 18% dry weight of a grazing animal’s diet.  Even where lesser amounts are ingested, recent research has shown impacts to grazing animals from biosolids additions to soils. These impacts include an accumulation of toxic metals in edible body organs, with implications for the human food chain.  Additionally, endocrine disruption (reduced testis size) has been documented, with implications for livestock reproduction.  There is now evidence that elements in sludge, particularly molybdenum and sulfur, are readily taken up by forages and can lead to Cu deficiency in livestock. "

"All sewage biosolids contain an array of synthetic organic chemicals. An array of pharmaceuticals was found in all of the biosolids tested, regardless of the type of treatment.  All biosolids are “highly enriched” in organic wastewater contaminants.  Some are present in high concentrations in sewage biosolids (up to 1% by dry weight).  Some have demonstrated toxicity.  Pharmaceuticals are designed to be biologically active at very low concentrations and thus even at trace levels they may impact plants and animals. There is new information showing that antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals have an impact on plants grown in soils containing these chemicals."

"Recent studies have confirmed that the use of antimicrobials had created a large pool of antibiotic-resistance genes in bacteria that are detected in sewage sludge and effluent from sewage treatment plants. Antibiotic resistant bacteria were found in higher numbers downstream of sludge-treated farmland as compared to upstream"

"The potential for prions that might be present in wastewater to accumulate in sludges and to persist through treatment is a concern."

"Soil microorganisms play a critical role in the functions of soil as a source of plant nutrition and in the cycling of nutrients.  Recent research shows that sludge application changes the soil microbial community and decreases its diversity. A number of human-use compounds (such as triclosan found in many personal care products such as antibacterial soaps) bioconcentrate in earthworms where soil has been amended with sewage sludges."




Prof. Jordan Peccia-  Yale University

"Land application is often accompanied by strong odors, and biosolids contain heavy metals, hazardous organic chemicals, microbial pathogens, and antibiotic resistant bacteria." 

"Sludge is a record of what society excretes. This includes any pathogen that is contained in human feces, urine, and vomitus. A recent study found more than 27 different forms of human viruses in the sewage sludges of five large U.S. cities, ranging from Adenovirus to Corona virus to HIV."

"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." 



Dr. Sierra Rayne

"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." 


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." 



Author Lidia Epp  (manager of  the Molecular Core Lab in the Biology Department of College of William and Mary in Williamsburg)

"There is little doubt that there are direct human health consequences of land application of sludge. Several published public health reports clearly link the sludge application sites to the overall decline of health by the surrounding communities.  Czajkowski et al in a publication from 2010 “Application of GIS in Evaluating the Potential  Impacts of Land application of Biosolids on Human Health” concludes that there is a statistically significant increase in ill-health symptoms and diseases near the biosolids permitted fields.  Exposed residents were defined as those living within the one mile radius of filed applied biosolids, the illnesses included certain respiratory, gastrointestinal and other diseases."

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. 

It is true that biosolids contain beneficial elements like phosphorus, nitrogen, organic matter and trace nutrients. But the benefits derived from introducing those components to the soil via biosolids are by far overshadowed by the detrimental effects of toxins and pollutants that comprise the vast majority of the biosolids content. 

Many countries adopted and implemented a new approach to  the disposal of biosolids; methane production, energy source, recovery of metals and microelements. It is well past the time when we start to look at those alternatives as the only sustainable solution to the growing problem – what to do with the sludge our society produces."  



Dr. David Lewis

"What a wastewater treatment plant does is clean up the water, but it takes all those chemicals, all those priority pollutants we worry about that are highly neurotoxic - they are carcinogenic, they are mutagenic (In genetics, a mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level) - all of those are concentrated at the water treatment plant in sewage sludge. The EPA in 1978 decided that what we should do with this is put it on land. Forget the fact that sewage sludge now has every known priority pollutant in existence that we know of, it has every chemical that we don't know of - and no matter how long we live, we probably will never know the vast majority of chemicals that are out there that we are being exposed to - they will never be identified. What we do know is that they are all there in that sewage sludge!"

"So in 1988 Congress bans the ocean dumping of sewage sludges over health concerns, and the EPA starts promoting land application of sewage sludges in tons per acre on farms, forests, playgrounds, school athletic fields, and other public and private lands. (Please note that it was considered TOO TOXIC to continue with ocean disposal, but illogically, the public is supposed to believe that land disposal as somehow acceptable?! The toxic sludge is just the same - the thousands of pollutants now are to be spread on soils meant to sustain future generations!). EPA says it has nitrogen in it and phosphorus, so we'll spread it, provide it to farmers to put on their crops, golf courses, everywhere. Can you imagine this!?" None of the scientists at the EPA at the time I was working there, could imagine this. Unanimously, all the scientists working in that office did their best to stop this, but politics and industry, money, big money … had other ideas"

Dr. Caroline Snyder

 "Land-applied municipal sewage sludge (biosolids) is a highly complex and unpredictable mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Biosolids generated in our large industrialized urban centers is very likely the most pollutant- rich waste mixture of the 21st century."

Dr. Richard Honour

"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."

Friday, 28 September 2018

Why are modern cities disposing of their Toxic Sewage Sludge (TSS) on rural environments?


Why are modern cities disposing of their Toxic Sewage Sludge (TSS) on rural environments? Here is some background by Dr. David Lewis, internationally recognized research microbiologist, and author of the book "Science for Sale" 


"Early 1970's - Congress of USA passes Clean Air and Clean Water acts - but no Clean SOIL act. We have no way to protect the soil like we do, air, and water" (Until these acts were passed,  ocean dumping of sewage sludges was the most common way cities got rid of their toxic burden).

"What a wastewater treatment plant does is clean up the water, but it takes all those chemicals, all those priority pollutants we worry about that are highly neurotoxic - they are carcinogenic, they are mutagenic (In genetics, a mutagen is a physical or chemical agent that changes the genetic material, usually DNA, of an organism and thus increases the frequency of mutations above the natural background level) - all of those are concentrated at the water treatment plant in sewage sludge. The EPA in 1978 decided that what we should do with this is put it on land. Forget the fact that sewage sludge now has every known priority pollutant in existence that we know of, it has every chemical that we don't know of - and no matter how long we live, we probably will never know the vast majority of chemicals that are out there that we are being exposed to - they will never be identified. What we do know is that they are all there in that sewage sludge!"



So in 1988 Congress bans the ocean dumping of sewage sludges over health concerns, and the EPA starts promoting land application of sewage sludges in tons per acre on farms, forests, playgrounds, school athletic fields, and other public and private lands. (Please note that it was considered TOO TOXIC to continue with ocean disposal, but illogically, the public is supposed to believe that land disposal as somehow acceptable?! The toxic sludge is just the same - the thousands of pollutants now are to be spread on soils meant to sustain future generations!) EPA says it has nitrogen in it and phosphorus, so we'll spread it, provide it to farmers to put on their crops, golf courses, everywhere. Can you imagine this!?" None of the scientists at the EPA at the time I was working there, could imagine this. Unanimously, all the scientists working in that office did their best to stop this, but politics and industry, money, big money … had other ideas"

"In 1988 we increased pollutants a million-fold (collected and concentrated in the waste water treatment plants), spread them around us instead of putting them out in the bottoms of oceans - a real doomsday scenario as far as environmental exposures. We took pollution, when we did this, from the general population, to have it hauled out to primarily economically and educationally disadvantaged communities - This is an environmental justice issue!!"  (Note that it was around this time that the US government actively promoted this reckless disposal method to other countries around the world - selling it as a form of "recycling" and a great source of much needed nitrogen and phosphorous. The fact that it meant spreading concentrated amounts of toxins throughout the environment was glossed over).



"So the modern "solution" is no longer "dilution" (like the old slogan - "the solution to pollution is dilution") now the solution is the exact opposite - let's concentrate everything, a million times higher, and let's put it all around us, on school playgrounds, and golf courses, farms, and forests. Now it is concentrated selectively in human populations that don't have the political power or the economic means to even complain about it ... and if they did, they are faced with a body of literature that says this is good for you."



"The complexity of that mixture ... no organism has the genetic machinery capable of dealing with so many different assaults at one time - this is what we as humans are doing to the earth - because we do not have a Clean Soil Act. This to me is the heart of the problem; it is not so much that it is lead nor mercury or aluminum, our biggest challenge is that we've taken everything, mixed it together, and there is no lifeform on earth that has ever been exposed to anything like this, that has the genetic machinery needed, if it is even possible, to live in that kind of environment."



Environmental exposure - "In reality we all live in an ocean of chemicals, an almost infinite number ... and a lot on their own are not mutagenic  but when mixed with others, they can become mutagenic. We don't factor that in when we look at this problem."

"We can't solve any of these problems by regulating a handful of chemicals, it's insane. How is regulating 100 or so priority pollutants going to change this picture? It isn't! Not when we've got infinite numbers of chemicals. We have to eliminate pollution at the source. We can't have pharmaceutical companies, or chemical companies dumping a universe of stuff into the waters ... and then try to regulate a few of them!"  (Dr. David Lewis advocates using Pyrolysis as a clean, sustainable method to deal with our toxic sludges).



(quotations from the following video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzfNSw9xG-c&feature=youtu.be )

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Ten Toxic Truths by Prof. Marc Cohen


THE TEN TOXIC TRUTHS

March 3, 2015, by Professor Marc Cohen


It is widely recognised that the greatest underlying cause of death among humans today is lifestyle-related chronic disease. The world is in the grip of an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and more, fuelled by a high intake of sugar, fat, salt, alcohol and tobacco, and a lack of physical activity. In addition to this voluntary consumption, the entire human population is exposed to a toxic cocktail of industrial chemicals. The impact of industrial chemicals on human health was recently highlighted by the World Health Organisation, which forecasts a “tidal wave of cancer” (International Agency for Research On Cancer 2014). Meanwhile, public health researchers suggest we are experiencing a “silent pandemic of neuro-developmental disorders” and a “chemical brain drain” brought about by the exposure of an entire generation to industrial chemicals (Grandjean 2014). There are many actions we can take to avoid voluntary and involuntary health risks and, rather than becoming despondent, we need to become more aware and vigilant. Since the 16th century when Paracelsus stated “the dose makes the poison”, this idea has formed the basis for the regulation of toxic chemicals, including the use of pesticides and pharmaceuticals. We now know that this truth is incomplete. It is not only the dose, but also the type of chemical, the timing of exposure, the combination of chemicals and individual risk factors that combine to produce toxic effects. These factors give rise to what I call the “10 toxic truths”.







TOXIC TRUTH 1:

Everyone is affected

Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, industrial chemicals have permeated the globe and it is clear that the world will never return to the conditions that existed prior to this period. Many toxic chemicals are carried throughout the world dispersed as atmospheric aerosols, while billions of tons of chemicals and plastics have entered the oceans, resulting in plastic microparticles being reported in nearly every litre of ocean water. Toxic chemicals have now entered every habitat and ecosystem on earth, from the most arid deserts to the deepest seas, and virtually all living creatures now contain pollutants at or near harmful levels. Toxic chemical exposure has become an inevitable part of modern life and everyone is affected. Toxic chemicals are pervasive in our food, soil, air, water and indoor environments as well as in all human tissue, including umbilical cord blood and breast milk. Only a few countries such as the US, Canada and Germany have programs that aim to monitor toxic chemicals in their general population. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes the world’s most comprehensive assessment of human chemical exposures. The most recent NHANES report examined only 212 chemicals and found chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), used as fire retardants, and bisphenol A (BPA), a component of epoxy resins and polycarbonates, in the vast majority of participants (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2009).



TOXIC TRUTH 2:

The full extent is unknown

While we are all chronically exposed to a toxic cocktail of industrial pollutants, the full impact of industrial chemicals on human health remains unknown. There are more than 80,000 industrial chemicals that are commercially produced with more than 3000 produced in high volume and many tens of thousands more being inadvertently produced from industrial processes. Yet while the number of industrial chemicals increases every year, in most cases it is not possible to determine a chemical’s ‘safe level’, or ‘toxicity threshold’. And even when levels are measured, it is often difficult to interpret their clinical significance. The measurement of the body’s toxic load is still an emerging science (Sexton 2004, Committee on Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants, 2006). There are very few laboratories that currently have the facilities to perform comprehensive measures of toxic chemicals and, as yet, there are no general assessment measures that doctors can request to assess the ‘toxic load’ or ‘body burden’ of their patients. Thus, even though the signs and symptoms of overdose or overt toxicity are known for some compounds, the relationship between toxic load, individual susceptibility, clinical symptoms and chronic disease is incredibly complex and far from understood.



TOXIC TRUTH 3:

Tiny doses can have big effects

In the past it was thought that dose-response curves were linear, displaying a direct relationship between dose and toxicity. It is now known that dose-response curves can be non-linear or ‘non-monotonic’. This occurs when chemicals disturb the body’s regulatory processes rather than just impacting on target organs or tissues. By disrupting the endocrine system, the potential to reap metabolic havoc is greatly increased and extremely small exposures – orders of magnitude below recognised safety levels – can have dramatic effects. The hazards of endocrine disrupting chemicals and their potential for irreversible, latent effects was first brought into the public spotlight by Theo Colborn and Pete Myers in the mid-1990s with their book Our Stolen Future. In it they highlighted the science that shows that many chemicals, which are still being used, can impair reproduction, behaviour, intellectual capacity and the ability to resist disease in current and future generations. The book also suggested that: “World-wide exposure to endocrine disruption has thrust everyone into a large-scale, unplanned, unintended experiment with health, the outcome of which may not be known for generations.” While at the time of its release Our Stolen Future was seen by many as alarmist, a 2013 joint report from the World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Program on the ‘State-of-the-Science of Endocrine Disruptors’ confirms many of the book’s findings and suggests that exposure to industrial chemicals with endocrine-disrupting actions are contributing to the global increase in obesity, cancer, psychiatric diseases, birth deformities, ADHD and neuro-developmental problems in children, with current findings being “the tip of the iceberg”.






TOXIC TRUTH 4:

Biomagnification occurs up the food chain

Many toxic chemicals are fat soluble and last for decades in the environment where they undergo biomagnification (tissue concentrations increase) as they pass up the food chain. The toxicity of DDT and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (see ‘The rise of pesticides’ box on page 47) was first brought to the public’s attention in 1962 by Rachel Carson in her book Silent Spring. In May 2004, the Stockholm Convention on POPs came into effect, banning the use of nine of the most dangerous pesticides along with dioxins, furan and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These so-called legacy chemicals were all known to persist in the environment; undergo long-range environmental transport; be toxic to humans; and biomagnify up the food chain. Even though the use of most POP pesticides is banned in agriculture, these chemicals now permeate the global environment and lodge in the fatty tissue of animals where they biomagnify millions of times as they travel up the food chain. Being a precious biological resource, fat is seldom excreted, except for special situations such as breastfeeding where valuable fat (along with fat-soluble pollutants) is transferred to infants who sit at the very top of the food chain. POPs are also absorbed by micro-plastics in the oceans and are found in high concentrations in marine mammals, with some beached whales being classified as toxic waste.



TOXIC TRUTH 5:

Chemical cocktails are synergistic 

While exposure to individual toxic chemicals can be harmful, exposure to chemical mixtures is even more harmful. It has been shown that chemical cocktails can produce ‘something from nothing’ with toxic mixture effects arising even when the level of each contaminant in the mixture is below its specific ‘NOAEL’ (no observable adverse effect limit). Such mixture effects are not accounted for when determining chemical safety, which is assessed one chemical at a time, if at all. A 2009 ‘State of the Art Report on Mixture Toxicity’ commissioned by the European Union found that “there is consensus in the field of mixture toxicology that the customary chemical-by-chemical approach to risk assessment might be too simplistic. It is in danger of underestimating the risk of chemicals to human health and to the environment.” While mixture toxicity is currently not accounted for in chemical risk assessments, it is actively used in pesticide formulations to increase their potency. In order to kill pests, pesticides contain active ingredients with their own inherent toxicity, yet when pesticides are packaged and used, they are prepared as formulations. Pesticide formulations include the addition of often unnamed and unlabelled adjuvants that are designed to make the active ingredient more potent by acting as surfactants and cell penetrants. While these so-called ‘inert’ adjuvant chemicals are excluded from safety testing, recent research suggests they are far from inert and that they make formulations hundreds of times more toxic than the active ingredient alone (Mesnage 2014).



TOXIC TRUTH 6:

Bioaccumulation occurs over the lifespan

Over a human’s lifespan, exposure rates to fat-soluble chemicals often exceed the excretion rate leading to their accumulation in fatty tissue. Exposure begins in the womb with fat-soluble chemicals in umbilical cord blood crossing the placenta and lodging in foetal fat, which is mainly in the developing brain. A Canadian report has begun to document the extent to which children are born “pre-polluted” (Group 2005, WWF 2005, Canada 2013). Throughout a person’s lifespan, combinations of persistent chemicals accumulate in fatty tissue such as the brain, breast, prostate and bone marrow, which are often the tissues that develop cancers in later years. In addition to persistent fat-soluble chemicals, there are many other water-soluble endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and organophosphate (OP) pesticides that are ingested continually throughout a person’s lifespan, making them pseudo-persistent.





TOXIC TRUTH 7:

Windows of development are critical

The toxic effects of chemical exposure during critical periods, such as early childhood, can be irreversible. This became tragically evident in the 1970s with the birth of thousands of children without limbs and other birth defects after being exposed in utero to thalidomide. More recently, in-utero exposure to OP pesticides has been shown to impair children’s intellectual development in later life (see Ref 1).



TOXIC TRUTH 8:

Effects are trans-generational

Parental exposure to industrial chemicals can affect offspring and future generations. Many chemicals interfere with biochemical and endocrine pathways; induce genetic and developmental abnormalities; and produce trans-generational epigenetic effects that may lead to abnormalities in the third or fourth generation post-exposure. This can influence all aspects of an individual’s life history. This has recently been demonstrated experimentally with a single exposure to a commonly used fungicide being shown to alter the physiology, behaviour, metabolic activity and brain development in offspring three generations later, changing how they perceive and respond to a stress (see Ref 2).



TOXIC TRUTH 9:

Risk is unequal, unjust and greater for the young

The health risks of chemical exposures differ according to individual risk factors that include health status, physiology and genetics as well as demographic and social differences. Children are most vulnerable due to their higher dietary exposure, contact with the ground, hand-to-mouth behaviour, higher metabolic activity, immature organ systems, longer latency period for developing disease and sensitive development windows so that exposures lead to lifelong consequences (Landrigan 2005). The US-based Pesticide Action Network recently published a review of the scientific literature titled ‘Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health and intelligence’, which reports on the many studies that demonstrate that pesticide exposure compromises children’s cognitive function and leads to later chronic disease (Schafer 2013).





TOXIC TRUTH 10:

Exposure is unequal and unjust, and accidents happen

Everyone is exposed to industrial pollutants, yet exposure risk is not equal. Exposures vary with age, income, education, occupation, location, lifestyle, public policy and proximity to industrial activity and accidents. People living in poverty and lower socio-economic conditions often have the greatest exposure, which then compounds the effects of wealth inequality (Wright 2009). This makes environmental justice an important issue. Industrial accidents raise further justice issues as catastrophic accidents have inadvertently exposed vast populations of humans and wildlife to industrial pollutants. These accidents have occurred at every stage of the chemical-production cycle including mining (BP oil spill); transport (Exxon Valdez); manufacture (Bhopal); use (Fukushima and Chernobyl); and disposal (Love Canal). What’s more, often accidents are associated with minimal, delayed and inadequate compensation and remediation measures. Here are the detailed references for this article including ‘Ref 1’ and ‘Ref 2’ for Toxic Truths 7 & 8 respectively.





REFERENCES

·         Ref 1: Bouchard, M., Chevrier, J., Harley, KG., Kogut, K., Vedar, M., Calderon, N., Trujillo, C., Johnson, C., Bradman, A., Barr, DB., Eskenazi, B. (2011). "Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and IQ in 7-year-old children." Environ Health Perspect 119(8).

·         Ref 2: Crews D, G. R., Scarpino SV, Manikkam M, Savenkova MI, Skinner MK. (2012). "Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of altered stress responses." Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(23): 9143-9148 

·         Baillie-Hamilton (2002). "Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic." J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Apr;8(2):185-92.

·         Bouchard, M., Chevrier, J., Harley, KG., Kogut, K., Vedar, M., Calderon, N., Trujillo, C., Johnson, C., Bradman, A., Barr, DB., Eskenazi, B. (2011). "Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and IQ in 7-year-old children." Environ Health Perspect 119(8).

·         Canada, E. D. (2013). Pre-polluted: A report on toxic substances in the umbilical cord blood of Canadian newborns. Toronto.

·         Carson, R. (1962). Silent Spring. New York, Houghton Mifflin.

·         Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, US Department of Health and Human Services Committee on Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Toxicants. (2006). Human Biomonitoring for Environmental Chemicals National Research Council

·         Crews D, G. R., Scarpino SV, Manikkam M, Savenkova MI, Skinner MK. (2012). "Epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of altered stress responses." Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(23): 9143-9148

·         Curl, C., Fenske, FA., Elgethun, K. (2003). "Organophosphorus Pesticide Exposure of Urban and Suburban Preschool Children with Organic and Conventional Diets." Environmental Health Perspectives 111(3): 377-382.

·         Grandjean, P., Landrigan, P.J. (2014). "Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity." The Lancet 13(3): 330-338.

·         Group, E. W. (2005). Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns. Washington, DC.

·         International Agency for Research On Cancer (2014). World Cancer Report 2014. B. W. Stewart, Wild, C.P.,. Geneva, World Health Organisation.

·         Krüger, M., Schledorn, P., Schrödl, W., Hoppe, H.W., Lutz, W., Shehata, A.A., (2014). "Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans." Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology 4(2).

·         Landrigan, P., Garg, A. (2005). Children are not little adults. Children’s health and the environment: A global perspective - A resource manual for the health sector. J. Pronzczuk de Garbino. Geneva, World Health Organization.

·         Lu, C. and K. Toepel, Irish, R., Fenske, RA., Barr, DB., Bravo, R. (2006). "Organic diets significantly lower children’s dietary exposure to organophosphorus pesticides." Environ Health Perspect 114: 260–263.

·         Mesnage, R., Defarge, N., Spiroux de Vendômois, J., & Séralini, G.-E. (2014). "Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles. ." BioMed Research International: 1-15.

·         Oates, L., Cohen, M., Braun, L., Schembri, A., Taskova, R., (2014). "Reduction in Urinary Organophosphate Pesticide Metabolites in Adults after a Week-Long Organic Diet." Environmental Research 132: 105-111

·         Schafer, K., Marquez, EC. et al. (2013). Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health and intelligence. Oakland CA, Pesticide Action Network.

·         Sexton, K., Needham, LL., Pirkle, JL. (2004). "Human Biomonitoring of Environmental Chemicals." American Scientist 92: 38-45.

·         van der Sluijs, J. P., Simon-Delso, N., Goulson, D., Maxim, L., Bonmatin, J.M., Belzunces, L.P. (2013). "Neonicotinoids, bee disorders and the sustainability of pollinator services." Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5(3-4): 293–305.

·         Vogt, R., D. Bennett, D. Cassady, J. Frost, B. Ritz and I. Hertz-Picciotto (2012). "Cancer and non-cancer health effects from food contaminant exposures for children and adults in California: a risk assessment." Environmental Health 11(1): 83.

·         WHO/UNEP (2013). State of the science of endocrine disrupting chemicals - 2012: An assessment of the state of the science of endocrine disruptors prepared by a group of experts for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WHO. Geneva, World health Organisation & United Nations Environment Program.

·         Wright, R. J. (2009). "Moving towards making social toxins mainstream in children's environmental health." Curr Opin Pediatr 21(2): 222-229.

·         WWF, G. (2005). A present for life: hazardous chemicals in umbilical cord blood. Amsterdam.

·         Zeng, G., Chen, M., Zeng, Z. (2013). "Risks of Neonicotinoid Pesticides." Science 340: 1403.





The 10 Toxic Truths - In short form

1) Everyone is affected

Toxic chemicals are pervasive and are distributed through long-range environmental transport so that all living things contain pollutants at or near harmful levels. Toxic chemicals are found in all human tissues and in food, soil, air, water and indoor environments.

2) The full extent is unknown 

Toxic chemicals are often invisible and have latent effects. Over 80,000 chemicals are produced commercially and industrial processes inadvertently create many more. Most chemicals are not tested for toxicity - and very few are routinely tested for in human tissue. 

3) Tiny doses can have big effects

Dose responses can be non-linear with extremely small doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) contributing to the global increase in obesity, birth deformities, cancers, psychiatric diseases and neurodevelopmental problems with current findings being “the tip of the iceberg”.

4) Bio-magnification occurs up the food chain

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) last for decades in the environment, accumulate in fatty tissue and magnify up the food-chain. Bio-magnification leads to much higher concentrations in predatory species and human infants who sit at the top of the food-chain.

5) Windows of development are critical

The toxic effects of exposure during critical periods can be irreversible, yet remain hidden until later in life. Early exposure can impair intellectual development and metabolism and foster the development of metabolic syndrome, cancer and other chronic diseases.

6) Effects are trans-generational

Parental exposure to industrial chemicals affects offspring and future generations. Industrial chemicals can induce genetic and developmental abnormalities and transgenerational epigenetic effects that can lead to abnormalities in the third and fourth generation post-exposure.

7) Chemical cocktails are synergistic

Exposure to chemical mixtures is more harmful than individual chemicals. Mixture effects can produce ‘something from nothing’, with toxicity arising even when individual chemical concentrations have no effect, yet chemicals are tested for safety individually, if at all.

8) Bioaccumulation occurs over the lifespan

Exposure rates of fat-soluble chemicals often exceed the excretion rate leading to accumulation over the lifespan in fatty tissue such as the brain, breast, prostate and bone marrow. This accumulated body burden crosses the placenta and targets the fetal brain.

9) Risk is unequal, unjust and greater for the young

Risks vary with physiology, genetics, demographics and income. Children are most vulnerable due to higher dietary exposure, contact with the ground, hand-to-mouth behavior, higher metabolic activity, immature organ systems and a longer latency period for developing disease.

10) Exposure is unequal and unjust and accidents happen

Exposure is not equal and varies with age, income, education, occupation, location, lifestyle, public policy and proximity to industrial accidents. Accidents that inadvertently expose vast populations to toxic chemicals happen at every stage of the industrial chemical lifecycle.



Professor Cohen's Ten Toxic Truths article appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Organic Gardener magazine. 


Monday, 9 April 2018

Do you buy "compost" from your city? You need to read this !

Andrew Drouin has been looking into this practice near where he lives in the Okanagan, but this is done ALL OVER North America, and people simply DO NOT KNOW what they are getting when they innocently buy what they believe is "compost" 

During a recent ride along the KVR, through the area between Sunglo Dr. and West Bench Hill Rd., I was struck by an incredibly strong stench in the air. I tried to discern the particular aroma, wondering “manure?”, “sewage treatment plant?”... when it hit me; a local home-owner had accepted and widely spread the free material that the City of Penticton / RDOS mislabels as “compost” and supplies cheap-to-free at the landfill.
The product that the aforementioned parties refer to as “compost” is actually not compost in the classic sense at all. Rather, it’s a mildly toxic blend of lime, sand, chipped wood and the tens of thousands of products that our society purchases, then pees, poos, dumps, pours, flushes or otherwise disposes of down the drain.
These dried solids, originating from the Penticton Wastewater Treatment Plant, are then labeled “compost” and made available to the public and commercial landscaping operations in the region.
Now, before someone from the RDOS / City of Penticton staff rushes off a counter-letter to the paper, scorning and hoping to ‘correct’ me on this missive; please don’t.
I ask that instead, you please take some time on your own, as a citizen, not as a public employee - to learn what this “faux-compost” product is comprised of.
A great place to start is with the modern wonder-tool: Google. The first phrase that you want to search for is “What are Contaminants of Emerging Concern?” (CEC’s), so that you understand the (current) science on the subject. Scan through the results of your search and read any government or university peer-reviewed study that catches your interest.
Note that there is a distinct difference between what government’s media-communications homepages present vs. what their published peer-reviewed science presents…
What you will find from countless sources is what UNESCO defines as: "Contaminants of Emerging Concern, include alkylphenols, flame retardants, hormones, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, micro-fibers from plastics, steroids, lubricants and pesticides”. In total, the Canadian marketplace hosts some seventy thousand different chemicals - a large portion of which end up down one drain or another.
How is this possible? Can these statements possibly be accurate? Over and above the proverbial trainloads of peer-reviewed scientific publications available online, an interesting and easily accomplished thought-experiment goes like this: close your eyes and imagine walking through your local big-box grocery, hardware or general merchandise retail outlet.
See all of those liquid cleaning products, personal care products - including makeup, shampoos, cream-rinses, deodorants, perfumes, powdered cleansers etc.? They all end up down the drain or adsorbed to material and added to our (unlined) landfill post-use.

Now, mentally wander down the aisles of any of the dozen or so pharmacies in the city, keeping the volumes flushed by hospital and long-term care facilities in mind. Those walls of retail pharmaceuticals are re-stocked daily, and all of it ends up down the drain, as the human body only metabolizes a small percent of the active ingredient in pharmaceuticals. In the case of antibiotics, it can be as low as ten percent.
Google the phrase “Drugs can pass through human body almost intact: New concerns for antibiotic resistance, pollution identified” for the full article by Amy Pruden, National Science Foundation recipient and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech.
The balance of all of these Contaminants of Emerging Concern end up down the drain, through the wastewater treatment plant, and into the industrial product that local and regional governments refer to as “compost” or “biosolids”.
Outside of small-scale laboratory experiments, with very limited numbers of CEC’s, mankind does not possess a technology that will clear CEC’s from the human waste stream. That’s because those aforementioned “thousands of chemicals” are comingled, and modern science simply doesn’t possess a tool or technology that will both separate and ameliorate them.
Try this: mix any three of four (non-toxic) liquid products in your home in a jar and shake the container. Now consider; how would you separate them? That, my fellow citizens, is the conundrum of our societies’ wastewater treatment plants, but on a much larger scale, and involving tens of thousands of chemicals…


If you were to schedule a visit to the Penticton Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and inquire about the workings of our excellent facility, you will learn that that there are no specific mechanisms built into the plant to deal with CEC’s.
In fact, no waste water treatment plant in North America is currently able to remove most CEC’s from wastewater treatment plant outfall - be it liquid or solid. And this is a critical problem for our society and our environment going forward.
Our wastewater treatment plants are great at reducing nasty bits such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses and a few heavy-metals, but ineffective at dealing with Contaminants of Emerging Concern - because they were never designed to address this issue.
In most cases, “the solution”, is to separate the liquid and solid components of the wastewater treatment plant stream, filter out the large bits, dry the remaining solids, mix them with various fillers, such as the sand, lime and chipped wood - and give or sell this product to the public.
The (CEC-bearing) liquid is pumped into the river channel and sprayed on parks and school-grounds as “reclaimed water”...


The problem with this tactic is that the solid product - mislabeled as “compost”, still contains traces of tens of thousands of Contaminants of Emerging Concern. All the drying and distributing process really solves are the municipal storage issues (chiefly, volume) associated with wastewater treatment plant dried outfall.
How is this absurdity possible? Several factors are at play. The first is that our society has an addiction to drugs and ‘wonder-chemicals’. If we didn’t, there simply wouldn’t be tens of thousands of pharmaceuticals and chemicals on the market.
The second factor is that North American governments are operating on fudged data. If you’d like to read up on the fiasco that is the 25-year old “EPA Part 503 Biosolids Rule” (which all North American governments base their handling of wastewater treatment plant outfall on) then I recommend Googling the phrase “Dr. David Lewis was a senior-level research microbiologist for the US Environment Protection Agency's Office of Research & Development during the 1990s” for an interesting story of whistleblowers and fudged EPA science.
In a nutshell - properly dealing with Contaminants of Emerging Concern is expensive, and very few government bodies wish to implement of a true solution to the dried solids issue: a mature technology known as Gasification. I’ve spoken with multiple levels of government, on several occasions, and the universal response to Gasification is that “the return on investment is not there”.
In reply, I suggest that government factors in the medical implications of distributing tens of thousands of comingled Contaminants of Emerging Concern into the environment, and tell us, their employers, if the Return on Investment is valid.
In the meantime, we are in a bizarre situation where the media-mouths of the EPA and Environment Canada (and thus, all local governments) state that “Contaminants of Emerging Concern are not a problem, but that the topic merits further research” - while simultaneously, much of the actual, peer-reviewed science that they are producing (and we pay for) unequivocally states that CEC’s are indeed a concern - as a countless number of their own published papers will attest.
In closing; please do some research on this topic on your own and form your own opinions. In the meantime, I personally urge you to not accept any of the RDOS / City of Penticton “compost” for gardening or landscaping use. A quick ‘Google’ of the phrase “Plant Uptake of Contaminants of Emerging Concern” and “bioaccumulation of Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Soil” will demonstrate why applying city “compost” to your property is, in my studied opinion, a sketchy option.

“Friends don’t let friends use industrial compost”

- Household Chemicals and Drugs Found in Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment Plants - https://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/biosolids.html
- A Sample of 8676 articles published on this topic (!): https://pubs.acs.org/action/doSearch?AllField=+of+emerging+concern