PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF SLUDGE CONSIDERED TO BE A FERTILIZER
( SLUDGE SITE NEIGHBORS AND SOME SCIENTISTS KNOW IT IS HAZARDOUS TO THEIR HEALTH)
SCIENTIFIC PERCEPTION OF SLUDGE CONSIDERED TO BE A FERTILIZER
(DOCTORS DON'T THINK EPA WOULD DO THIS TO US)
Scientific Perception of some Doctors and scientists concerning Sewage Sludge called biosolids
The medical and scientific perception of raw sewage is that it is illegal to disposed of it as a
fertilizer to spray irrigate crops. Medical doctors and even sludge scientists will agree that the
bacteria, viruses, helminths, protozoans and fungi, would become bioaersols with the potential
to infect farm workers as well as their neighbors.
The general medical and scientific perception of sewage sludge (aka biosolids) disposed of as
a fertilizer to spray irrigate crops is that it has been thoroughly treated to make it safe. This
perception appears to be based on the belief that the sewage sludge is treated to make it a
safe fertilizer. Otherwise, it seems the medical and scientific perception is that CDC, EPA,
USDA, FDA and state health departments would not allow the public health risk to farmers and
their neighbors or the contamination of our food crops. Several state health departments,
such as Washington and Virginia, are the permit issuing agents for sludge used as a fertilizer.
Could the medical and scientific perception be wrong?
EPA does not have a fecal coliform standard for land.
In New Orleans EPA found fecal coliform levels of 2419.6 cfu per 100ml/liter, over ten
times the 200 cfu level considered to be safe. To compare that pollution level to
sludge the numbers need to reflect a full liter/kilogram (1,000 ml/grams). The number
then become 24,190.6 vs a safe level of 2,000 cfu of fecal coliform per 1,000 ml/gram.
EPA uses fecal coliform bacteria tests as an indicator for the more dangerous bacteria,
viruses, helminth, protozoa and fungi to verify the safety of biosolids. The difference can be
extraordinary. As an example, one sample, tested for fecal coliform and Salmonella bacteria
found that fecal coliform was 30,000 cfu, while Salmonella was at 8,000,000 cfu per (1,000
grams). Another sample tested found fecal coliform at 60,000 cfu, while E.coli was was at
8,000,000 cfu per (1,000 grams).
1. If you were told that the material used to fertilize your food contained 2,000,000,000 (two
billion?) fecal coliform bacteria per (1,000 grams), would you consider the material to be a
biological weapon, raw sewage or treated biosolids?
(40 CFR 503.32(b)(2)(ii)
2. If your were told the material you wanted to use to fertilizer your lawn and garden
contained 1,000,000 fecal coliform bacteria per (1,000 grams), would you consider the
material to be a biological weapon, hazardous waste or treated biosolids?
(40 CFR 503.32(a)(3)(i))
3. If you found out exposure to the material presented to you as a fertilizer or soil amendment
could cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological
malfunctions (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations, would you
consider it a terrorist weapon, hazardous waste or treated biosolids?
(40 CFR 503.9(t))
4. If you found material on your property which tested out with 21 published cancer causing
agents in it and found out 5 of them would cause cancer if inhaled, would you think someone
was trying to kill you or it was just the treated biosolids you purchased?
(Federal Register 54, p. 5777).
The answer to all four questions is treated biosolids
The medical and scientific perception is that since these Agencies created a policy to use
sludge as a fertilizer on food crops in 1980, and some state adopted the 1993 EPA 503
policy, it must be safe. The National Academy of Science has reviewed the sludge issues twice
in the last ten years, and according to the sludge experts given sludge a clean bill of health,
so it must be safe. EPA has run a multi million dollar public relations campaign for the last 10
year to change public perception about the danger of sludge, so it must be safe.
The general medical and scientific perception is that EPA and other government Agencies
actually know what they are doing and are there to protect the public, and the environment,
with real regulations and science..
The general medical and scientific perception is that government sludge experts and
university sludge researchers would not publish misleading studies in peer reviewed
This perception is wrong on all counts