Sunday, 16 October 2016

Scientists react to BC Govt's So-Called Science Literature Review of "Biosolids"

Scientists react to BC Govt's So-Called Science Literature Review of "Biosolids"

A few observations on the newly released so-called Science Literature Review on “Biosolids

A note about terminology – I will be using the accurate phrase “sewage sludge” throughout my writing, as the industry and government term “biosolids” is a PR spin, used to present this waste, which is full of toxins, in a better light. I am not interested in supporting this deceptive language.

As John Werring perceptively points out, the opening paragraph of this document sets the stage for everything that follows:

“Biosolids are treated and stabilized wastewater treatment residuals. In BC, this material is largely beneficially re-used as a soil amendment in agriculture or other applications, including landscaping and site reclamation.” This is PR speak – not science! The very concept of its being “beneficial” is what is at stake here – it is not a given!! The bias is palpable throughout this document.

What is most obvious about this review is just how one-sided it is. It is not by any means an objective look at relevant science dealing with the risks associated with the land disposal of sewer sludge. When a review puts forth only documents which support a pre-determined outcome, it can only be seen as propaganda. Science and objectivity have gone out the window. This review is nothing more than a cherry-picked summary of articles that supports the government’s and industry’s agenda. There are many scientists who argue an opposing view to those collected in this booklet - and argue that disposing of a city's toxic sewage in this manner presents a serious threat to health. Obviously they were not included as they individually and collectively raise all kinds of red flags concerning the practice of land disposal of sewer sludge (See a selection of overlooked peer-reviewed articles printed separately).

Dr. Richard Honour has offered a few observations on this review. His comment are as follows:

Notes from the Review Document:

1.      “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a Risk Factor as “any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury” (WHO 2016).”

 Comment: Any person or life form in any environment that is exposed to sewage sludge, whether in air, water, soil or food, is placed at Risk for disease or injury by the fact that sewage sludge includes the accumulated toxic wastes from all human activity. These wastes include industrial and commercial chemicals, medical wastes, domestic wastes, meaning from households and small businesses, pharmaceutical and personal care products, infectious agents, and stormwater runoff, including from all impermeable surfaces, such as highway and road surfaces, parking lots, walkways, runways, rooftops and otherwise constructed sites. The wastewater treatment process separates toxic chemicals, infectious agents and other materials from raw sewage, and then concentrates them in sewage sludge at elevated levels. Few chemicals and microbes are destroyed in the wastewater treatment process, but are transported to disposal sites in the living environment. While in the treatment plant process, and subsequently at the disposal location, many microbes are killed, while others are amplified by re-growth in the disposed sludge environment. Also, antibiotic-resistant forms of infectious disease agents share their gene sequences with other microbes, thereby conferring their resistance characteristics to other microbes, thereby increasing the pool of resistant infectious agents. Similarly, many chemicals are degraded, but many new chemicals are formed newly in sludge, producing yet more chemicals, many with even greater toxicity. Typically, a few microbes and chemicals (and metals) are monitored, but only a few of the tens of thousands of current and novel infectious agents and chemicals disposed on the land and in our waters in land-disposed sewage sludge are monitored. All of the microbes, chemicals and metals in sewage sludge are valid Risk Factors for any person or life form in any environment exposed to sewage sludge, and that includes the environment itself. The only method of eliminating the Risk or the Risk Factors in sewage sludge is by Thermal Decomposition, with proper disposal or treatment of the resulting ash and gasses. Composting may dilute and mitigate the Risk from infectious agents and toxic chemicals, but the Risk Factors are not eliminated; composts that include sewage sludge assume the toxicity characteristic of the sewage sludge in proportion to the amount of sludge included. Once any amount of sewage sludge is included in any compost, the compost can no longer be considered as being Organic.

2.      “There are three main risk factors that determine the risk from organic contaminants in the environment: Persistence, Bioaccumulation, Toxicity (Arnot and Gobas 2006; Clarke and Cummins 2015; Government of Canada 1999 2000; USEPA 1999).”

 Comment: Please note that the Canadian Government recognizes that three main Risk Factors “determine the risk from organic contaminants in the environment: Persistence, Bioaccumulation and Toxicity.” Note also that all of the contaminants included in the subject review fall within one or more of the stated categories that determine Risk: They Persist and Bioaccumulate in the environment, and they are Toxic.

3.       “The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) states that a substance is toxic if it enters the environment in a concentration or quantity that will have or may have immediate or long term harmful effects on the environment or its biological diversity, constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, and constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.”

Comment: Nearly all of the infectious agents, toxic chemicals and toxic metals found in nearly any sewage sludge were addressed by this Review. In general, a large portion of the chemicals and microbes detected in the sludges, “have or may have an immediate or long term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity, constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, and constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.” The results of the Literature Review by LRCS for the Canadian Government describes clearly that the practice of land disposed sewage sludge must be banned in Canada, and that sewage sludge that is mixed, blended or combined in any way with compost must not be applied to any food crops or applied to any land that may leach or flow to any surface or ground waters. While the Review collected and evaluated a large portion of the relevant literature, our finding by review of additional literature support further that the practice of land-disposed Toxic Sewage Sludge must be banned in the better interests of human and environmental health. Any and all release of Toxic Sewage Sludge into our living environment places us all at risk, now and in the future. When considering the toxics in Toxic Sewage Sludge, it must be appreciated that some acute diseases may display clinical manifestations in the short-e-term, such as in days, weeks or months, but the clinical presentation of chronic diseases, such as neurological disorders, cancer, metabolic disorders or immune disfunction-related illnesses, may not appear for decades. Who will be responsible for the cancers that develop in the elderly, following a lifetime of exposure to toxic waste? Who will be responsible for the diseases of children who were exposed pre-birth, or even by mechanisms of environmental epigenetics, perhaps more than a generation previously? Exposure to toxic waste is slow genocide.

-          Richard Honour The Precautionary Group

Dr Thomas Maler has also read over the review document, and has made the following observations:

Summary of my comments on the Literature review of risks relevant to the use of biosolids and compost from biosolids with relevance to the Nicola Valley, BC

The generally arid climate of the Nicola Valley does NOT reduce the risks associated with application of biosolids on land. There is no such a thing as “beneficial” use of biosolids on land, because the risks always outweigh any benefits. It is impossible to test the composition of biosolids, because there are approx. 30,000 different chemicals in sludge and nobody can test them all. This report cautions about monitoring 13 chemicals, what about the 29,987 other ones? Also, applying the biosolids in the summer when it rains less is bad logic, it will rain eventually, the chemicals don’t go away, they will be there to leach into the water when it rains. Best way to avoid contamination water and land is NOT to apply the sludge at all.

Applying sludge to land is not the most pragmatic approach to managing it; the most pragmatic approach is to gasify this toxic sludge. Nutrients from the sludge generated in some far away cities can’t be returned to land by applying sludge, because it contains more toxins than nutrients. Any nutrients are contaminated with toxins. New Organic Matter recycling regulations (OMRR) regulations for 2016 should NOT include sludge/biosolids. The dangers of sludge on land can’t be reduced by source control. Perhaps in 100 years we will reduce some dangerous chemicals that go into sewage, but today in 2016 it is not possible. 

Water soluble contaminants are NOT always reduced in all sewage treatment plants, only in tertiary with Advanced Oxidation (AO) of the effluent, so the sludge will still contain huge amounts of water soluble as well as water insoluble contaminants. Composting of the sludge does NOT significantly reduce the dangers of those 30,000 different chemicals in sludge. 

The whole review does NOT even mention Superbugs that breed in sewage treatment plants, and composting will certainly NOT diminish their dangers. The antibiotic resistance in Superbugs is spread from one bacterium to another via small circles of DNA called plasmids and they will NOT be destroyed by composting; plasmids can survive being shot into space and reentry back to earth, so they will certainly survive a bit of heating while composting sludge. 

The way to reduce risks from sludge and get energy from them is to not put them on land, but gasify them and harvest the energy from them in a form of a syngas which can be used to generate electricity. 

The greatest threat posed by application of sewer sludge (or biosolids as they like to call it to make it look better) is contamination of both land and water with approximately 30,000 chemicals of unknown nature and toxicity. Nobody has the ability to measure and determine the toxicity (as well as degradation) of so many chemicals, most of them being synthetic ones that nature has no way to degrade or remove them, and even minor quantities can have disastrous effects on the land and water.  These chemicals can get washed away into streams, lakes and the ocean as well. The safety threat posed by these chemicals, metals and Superbugs has NOT been addressed by this review; the focus of the review is to justify this reckless practice, so that it can continue with government approval. It defies logic to produce a document, under the guise of scientific review, that justifies a dangerous practice where all of these dangers can be avoided by simply not applying the sludge/biosolids on land. We can use much less dangerous fertilizers on land and use the sludge instead to generate electricity and charcoal in a gasifier. 

Thomas Maler, Ph.D. (chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology)

Finally, I would like to include here some passages from a very recent hearing in the USA on the risks of land-applied “biosolids”

Prof. Caroline Snyder speaks at the House Democratic Policy Committee
Re: Public Hearing on sewage sludge    Date: August 29, 2016

My name is Caroline Snyder. I am emeritus professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I designed, administered, and taught interdisciplinary environmental science courses and chaired the Department of Science, Technology, and Society.

Land-applied municipal sewage sludge (biosolids) is a highly complex and unpredictable mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Most of the man-made chemical compounds in commerce today - with 1000 new ones added annually - end up in sewage, and many of those, concentrate in the resulting biosolids . They include carcinogens, mutagens, neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, solvents, pharmaceuticals, radioactive waste, leachates from landfills and superfund sites, as well as disease causing and antibiotic resistant pathogens. Upgrading and building improved treatment plants that will remove more pollutants from sewage, will cause sludge to become even more contaminated. Biosolids generated in our large industrialized urban centers - and 84% of land-applied sludge originates in those centers - is very likely the most pollutant- rich waste mixture of the 21st century.

The number of individuals and organizations that oppose land application is growing. There isn’t a community in the country that welcomes the arrival of sludge trucks. Many farmers are no longer taken in by the brochures and videos that promise instant savings and high yields from this free mislabeled "natural organic" fertilizer. Over a hundred environmental organizations - many supporting sustainable farming practices - oppose growing food and forage on biosolids-treated land. Among them are the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rodale Institute, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Western Growers, the National Farmers Union, the Food Rights Network, and the Organic Consumers Association. All of these organizations depend on impartial scientific information to form their policy positions.

A few observations on the testing done on “biosolids” in the Nicola Valley.

As we had predicted, the contaminants that are really of concern were not even look at in the “Sampling Project” - superbugs, prions, nanomaterials, microplastics, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, (PBDEs) Flame retardants (PBDEs) etc. One does not have to wonder why – again, it would not support their pre-determined outcomes. They simply didn’t want to look for toxins they didn’t want to find. This point is key to understanding why this government decided to relegate the First Nations participation in this study to the status of “observers” – the last thing they wanted was to have John Werring of the Suzuki Foundation, chosen by the Chiefs to help with the testing process, to have free reign on sampling – and very likely reproduce the dramatically toxic results he got back from the initial tests the previous year.  The Chiefs would not be mere observers, but wanted input – wanted objective, arm’s length scientists at the table. Alas, the government could not allow that! The Chiefs had no option but to leave this biased project.

A small sample of the peer-reviewed studies overlooked by the so-called Literature review

1.      “Meta-analysis of biosolid effects on persistence of triclosan and
triclocarban in soil”  2015
Qiuguo Fu, Edmond Sanganyado , Qingfu Ye, Jay Gan

"Biosolid amendment greatly enhances persistence of triclosan and triclocarban, likely due to enhanced sorption or decreased chemical bioavailability. This finding highlights the importance to consider the effect of biosolids when evaluating the environmental risks of these and other biosolid-borne PPCPs."

2.      “Metal stress and decreased tree growth in response to biosolids application
in greenhouse seedlings and in situ Douglas-fir stands”  2011
Erica T. Cline, Quyen T.N. Nguyen, Lucy Rollins, James E. Gawel

"Phytochelatins e bioindicators of intracellular metal stress e were elevated in foliage of biosolids-amended stands, and significantly higher in roots of seedlings grown with fresh biosolids. These results demonstrate that biosolids amendments have short- and long-term negative effects that may counteract the expected tree growth benefits."

3.      “Occurrence, sources, and fate of pharmaceuticals in aquatic
environment and soil” 2013
W.C. Li

"Those pharmaceuticals which cannot be degraded and attenuated by natural and
human process will accumulate in the environment and lead to potential effects on the organism or even human."

4.      “Influence of organic amendment on fate of acetaminophen
and sulfamethoxazole in soil”  2015
Juying Li , Qingfu Ye, Jay Gan

"Land application of biosolids or compost constitutes an important route of soil contamination by emerging contaminants such as acetaminophen and sulfamethoxazole. Addition of biosolids or compost appreciably accelerated the formation of bound residue, likely due to the fact that the organic material provided additional sites for binding interactions or introduced exogenous microorganisms facilitating chemical transformations. This effect of biosolids or compost should be considered in risk assessment of these and other emerging contaminants."

5.      “Soil contamination by organic micropollutants”

2015,  Vodyanitskii.

"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."

6. “Nanomaterials in Biosolids Inhibit Nodulation, Shift Microbial Community Composition, and Result in Increased Metal Uptake Relative to Bulk/Dissolved Metals”  2015                                                                                                                                      Jonathan D. Judy, David H. McNear, Jr. Chun Chen,Ricky W. Lewis,Olga V. Tsyusko
Paul M. Bertsch, William Rao, John Stegemeier, Gregory V. Lowry, Steve P. McGrath,
Mark Durenkamp, and Jason M. Unrine

"Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are entering waste streams in increasing quantities as a result of their use in an increasing variety of consumer products employing nanotechnology.1 The majority of these ENMs have been shown to partition to the sludge within wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), and there is a risk of environmental harm in agroecosystems where biosolids are land-applied as fertilizer, which has yet to be fully evaluated. While regulations exist that limit the land application of biosolids that contain elevated concentrations of certain metals, these regulations do not specifically consider the incorporation of metal-containing nanomaterials."

"While the metal concentrations used in this study are high relative to near-term predicted soil ENM concentrations, we have clearly demonstrated that there is a distinct plant and microorganism response as a result of exposure to biosolids containing ENMs compared to biosolids containing bulk/dissolved metal of the same composition. This result suggests that soil accumulation of ENMs could potentially affect critical ecosystem services, agricultural productivity, and ultimately human well-being."

7.“Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Legume Medicago truncatula to Aged Biosolids Containing a Mixture of Nanomaterials (TiO2, Ag, and ZnO) from a Pilot Wastewater Treatment Plant”   2015                                                                                                                                             Chun Chen, Jason M. Unrine, Jonathan D. Judy, Ricky W. Lewis, Jing Guo, David H. McNear, Jr.and Olga V. Tsyusko

"The field of nanotechnology is developing rapidly, and engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are being incorporated into an increasing number of industrial and consumer products. The ENMs within these products are being released into the environment, which raises concerns about their possible impacts on human and ecosystem health."

"In summary, this study provides the first comprehensive insight into the toxicogenomic responses of M. truncatula grown in soils amended with aged biosolids containing a mixture of ENMs (Ag, TiO2, and ZnO). Considering the results from the companion study,18 the gene expression patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibition of nodulation by ENM exposure was a result of plant toxicity rather than microbial toxicity, particularly because population densities of S. meliloti were similar in the bulk/dissolved and ENM treatments. We identified multiple genes involved in nodulation and inorganic nitrogen metabolism that were down regulated. In addition, genes involved in oxidative stress response were up-regulated. The companion study showed that Zn concentrations and uptake were higher in shoots from the ENM treatment than in the bulk/dissolved treatment while Ti and Ag concentrations were not significantly different.18 The present study showed that several genes involved in metal binding and Zn homeostasis were up-regulated. Taken together, these findings suggest that inhibition of growth and nodulation in M. truncatula exposed to ENM treatment is likely the result of enhanced bioavailability of Zn ions in the biosolids-amended soil containing aged ENMs resulting in phytotoxicity."

8. “Dissipation of contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids applied to nonirrigated farmland in eastern Colorado.” 2014                                                                                                                    Tracy J.B. Yager, Edward T. Furlong, Dana W. Kolpin, Chad A. Kinney, Steven D. Zaugg, and Mark R. Burkhardt

"This study indicates that some CECs 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."

9. “Bioavailability of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in biosolids-amended soils to earthworms (Eisenia fetida)” 2014                                                         Bei Wena, Hongna Zhang , Longfei Li , Xiaoyu Hu , Yu Liu , Xiao-quan Shan , Shuzhen Zhang

"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."

“Identification of Viral Pathogen Diversity in Sewage Sludge by Metagenome Analysis”  2013 Kyle Bibby and Jordan Peccia

"The large diversity of viruses that exist in human populations are potentially excreted into
sewage collection systems and concentrated in sewage sludge. "

"Two important, novel contributions can be drawn from this work’s results. The first is the broad diversity of human viruses revealed in the sludge samples. In every sample surveyed, the degree of viral pathogen diversity is greater than had been previously demonstrated in any environmental or wastewater sample. The realistic implications of this diversity include the need to consider a broader selection of viruses in environmental fate and transport studies, and importance of considering multiple human exposure routes to sewage sludge and wastewater. For the second major contribution, this work demonstrates the utility of metagenomic approaches for viral pathogen identification."

"The results of this study serve to expand our view on the type, occurrence and abundance of viral pathogens in raw sewage sludge and class B biosolids. These results strongly suggest that current regulations for pathogens in sewage sludge that focus on fecal coliform indicators or the presence of Enterovirus, do not capture the full degree of pathogen diversity to which the public may be exposed during biosolids land application. Emerging viruses including Parechovirus, Klassevirus, Bocavirus, and Coronavirus HKU1, were abundantly identified, highlighting previously undemonstrated pathogen diversity in sewage sludge."

10. "We Should Expect More out of Our Sewage Sludge" 2015
Jordan Peccia and Paul Westerhoff

" Sludge management practice must shift from treatment of a liability toward recovery of the embedded energy and chemical assets, while continuing to protect the environment and human health. This shift will require new research, treatment technologies and infrastructure and must be guided by the application of green engineering principles to ensure economic, social, and environmental sustainability. "

cia and Paul Westerhoffcia and Paul Westerhoff

11. "Heavy Metal Accumulation in Small Mammals following Sewage Sludge Application to Forests" 1989                                                                                                                                                             Linda J. Hegstrom and Stephen D. West


“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”

12. "Uptake of Polychlorobiphenyls Present in Trace Amounts from Dried Municipal Sewage Sludge Through an Old Field Ecosystem" 1981                                                                                             Thomas S. Davis


“Insects in the soil absorb toxins, which then accumulate in birds.”

Other Government Reviews not examined by the so-called Literature Review

“Sewage Sludge Management in Germany” – in-depth German government study 104 pages.…/sewage_sludge_management_i…  (2013)

"More than 30,000 tons of pharmaceutical drugs are used in Germany annually. After being used for therapeutic purposes or being disposed of improperly (in toilets), residues of these drugs end up in municipal sewage systems. Depending on the sewage treatment methods used, a greater or lesser portion of the pharmaceutical drug residues removed from sewage are deposited in sewage sludge. According to a German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen, SRU) report on pharmaceutical drugs in the environment, although only a handful of pharmaceutical drugs accumulate in sewage sludge, it would be advisable to gradually phase out the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer so as to avoid diffuse loads of potentially harmful substances in soil [SRU]."
"Expert reports issued by the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) concerning pharmaceutical drugs in the environment indicate that the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment resulting from resistant bacteria inputs poses a greater public health hazard than antibiotic inputs per se [SRU].”
"Sewage sludge fertilizer is a pollution sink for harmful sewage components from households, businesses and diffuse sources, concerning whose environmental relevance too little is known. Notwithstanding tighter controls and stricter limit values for certain sewage sludge pollutants, uncontrolled pollutants such as hydrocarbons inevitably find their way into the soil. Incorporation of certain pollutants into the food chain cannot always be avoided, despite the fact that, for example, plants normally do not absorb organic pollutants. Nonetheless, new breakdown products of pharmaceutical drugs are discovered in sewage sludge all the time, and they are incorporated into sewage sludge via human excretion carried by the wastewater that is treated by sewage treatment plants."

The official notice from Switzerland stopping the use of Sewer Sludge on farmland - (note that they cite the Precautionary Principle)

"Although sludge contains plant nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen it also comprises a whole range of harmful substances and pathogenic organisms produced by industry and private households. For this reason, most farmers already avoid using sludge as a fertiliser since they are aware of the risk of irreversible damage to the soil, the danger to public health and possible negative effects on the quality of the food they produce. For this reason the Federal Council plans to ban the use of sludge as a fertiliser, although this will mean breaking a nutrient cycle which is in itself useful. Prevention – a key principle of the law on health and the environment – requires, however, that any consequences for the environment which could be damaging or negative must be limited as early as possible, even there is no conclusive scientific evidence for such damage being caused."

Other studies questioning the safety of “biosolids” released after the Literature Review

1.      “Pathogenic Escherichia coli and enteric viruses in biosolids and related top soil improvers in Italy.” 2016                                                                                                                                               Tozzoli R, et al.

"Four samples were positive for the presence of nucleic acids from human norovirus, two of them being also positive for human adenovirus. Real Time PCR screening gave positive results for many of the virulence genes characteristic of diarrheagenic E. coli in 21 samples. These included the Verocytotoxin-coding genes, in some cases associated with intimin-coding gene, and markers of enteroaggregative, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."

2.      “Long-term field application of sewage sludge increases the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in soil.” 2016                                                                                                                                                               Qinglin Chena, Xinli Ana, Hu Lia, Jianqiang Sua, Yibing Mab, Yong-Guan Zhu

“Compared to the control soil (which contained around 40 antibiotic resistance genes), and to the soil fertilised only with chemical fertiliser (which contained a similar number), treatment with chicken manure (10 tonnes per hectare — t/ha) and sewage sludge (36 t/ha) more than doubled the number of antibiotic resistance genes (to around 100)…They also found that the effects increased with the amount of treatment that was applied… The highest number of antibiotic resistance genes were detected following sewage sludge treatment (36 t/ha).”

3.      “Are agricultural soils dumps for microplastics of urban origin?” 2016                                          Luca Nizzetto, Martyn Futter, and Sindre Langaas

"Based on new microplastics emission estimates in industrialized countries, we suggest that widespread application of sewage sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to farmlands is likely to represent a major input of microplastics to agricultural soils, with unknown consequences for sustainability and food security."

4.      “Microplastics – Also in Our Food?” 2015                                                                                 Christophe Goldbeck, Peter Fürst, Hans-Ulrich Humpf, Darena Schymanski,

"microplastics has gained attention as an environmental problem. Microplastics has been detected in the ocean, in rivers, in effluents from sewage treatment plants and sewage sludge. It is spread as fine dust in the air, such as tire wear, as sewage sludge fertilizer and landfill leachate on the ground, and also with rainwater."

"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed

5.      The fetal ovary exhibits temporal sensitivity to a ‘real-life’ mixture of environmental chemicals” 2016                                                                                                                                  Richard G. Lea, Maria R. Amezaga, Benoit Loup, Béatrice Mandon-Pépin, Agnes Stefansdottir, Panagiotis Filis, Carol Kyle, Zulin Zhang, Ceri Allen, Laura Purdie, Luc Jouneau, Corinne Cotinot, Stewart M. Rhind, Kevin D. Sinclair, Paul A. Fowler. ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )

"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."

"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."

ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed." ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."