Chromium and Sludge

The reaction to the advent of the Food Quality Protection Act which was by Congress in 1996 has been dramatic: 1)
Almost a quarter of the States rushed to enact food slander laws to prevent vocal complaints against adulterated food
products; 2) EPA prevailed on the National Academy of Science's National Research Council (NRC) to release an
unedited (and very flawed) scientific study on the positive benefits of using sludge as a fertilizer on food crops; and 3)
EPA quickly changed the Sludge Use and Disposal Regulation (40 CFR 503) by removing the ref erence to regulating
the extremely high toxic Chromium limits from the beneficial sludge use tables in part 503.13. The basic premise of the
"food slander laws" is that the media will not carry any "horror" stories about contaminated food products that have not
been proven scientifically.

The National Academy of Science 's (NAS) recent Committee report on Toxicants, states
that it is impossible to do a risk assessment to prove sludge use under part 503 is safe. The scientific statement is very
blunt: FINDINGS,"-----the remaining uncertainty for complex mixtures of chemical and biological agents is sufficient to
preclude the development of risk-management procedures that can reliability result in acceptable levels of risk." (5)

In effect, the Committee agrees with part 503.9(t) that due to the multitude of chemicals, pathogens and radioactive
material, EPA's waste disposal policy could be killing more people than the law allows.
EPA's Chief Salesman appears to be USDA's Rufus Chaney who appears to believe toxic and
hazardous waste is good for the farmer and home gardener. However, he wasn't originally sold on  EPA's sludge
dumping program. The December 1992, Water Environment Federation Washington  Bulletin noted there was some
discontent in the sludge industry with the proposed Part 503 rule. Rufus Chaney, USDA, didn't think the EPA limits for
cadmium, chromium, molybdenum and selenium were in the best interest of agricultural. He claimed there was no
technical basis for cadmium at 39 mg/kg and it should be 25 mg/kg. He did not think chromium should be regulated,
molybdenum should be double the current 18 mg/kg and selenium should be less than 36 mg/kg. It was also his
contention that the "clean sludge" concept "is a whole lot different regulatory approach and it needs to be honest." (p. 3)

Unfortunately, honesty has been sorely lacking in the rush to dump sludge on farmland and lawns as as fertilizer called
biosolids which is loaded with toxic chemical pollutants. EPA said, "The decision not to regulate does not necessarily
mean that the unregulated pollutants may not threaten public health and the environment." "The "safe level" might be
below the detection limit for some or all test procedures. The Agency believes, therefore, that it must determine the
"safe level" of a pollutant before removal credit authority can be granted for that pollutant." (58 FR 9384) An example of
this is Chromium. Removal credit is not authorized for chromium disposed of under the beneficial use section of part 503
because there is no determined "safe level."

Sewage sludge is the residue of all of the material flushed down the toilet and sinks from homes as well as all of the
hazardous materials flushed down the drains from industry, hospitals, and newspapers. In many cases, it includes the
toxic material washed into street storm water drains such as petroleum products, cadmium, lead, etc. Sludge, or
biosolids, is produced when sewage wastewater is treated to remove most of the solids which contain infectious disease
causing organisms as well as hazardous organic chemicals, which include materials from the home such as drain
cleaners, pesticides, and surfactants from washing detergents. Sewage sludge also contains toxic inorganic chemicals
such as the heavy metals arsenic, lead, chromium, mercury, nickel, etc.

In spite of the fact that a defined list of toxic pollutants (CWA term) in sludge has been around since 1981, "according to
EPA, "The term "toxic pollutant" is not used in the final 1993 part 503 regulation because this generally is limited to the
list of priority toxic pollutants developed by EPA. The Agency  concluded that Congress intended that EPA develop the
part 503 pollutant limits for a broader range of substances that might interfere with the use and disposal of sewage
sludge, not just the 126 priority pollutants." (FR. 58, 32, p. 9327)"

The EPA Environmental Terms list show a: "Toxic Chemical: [is] Any chemical listed in EPA rules as "Toxic Chemicals
Subject to Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.""and; "Toxic Pollutants:
[are] Materials that cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them. The quantities and
exposures necessary to cause these effects can vary widely."

The EPA Environmental Terms also identifies the group as very dangerous: "Heavy
Metals: [are] Metallic elements with high atomic weights; (e.g., mercury,
chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead); [which] can damage living things at
low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.
To get past this obstacle, in 1989, "EPA concluded that adequate protection
of public health and the environment did not require the adoption of
standards designed to protect human health or the environment under exposure
conditions that are unlikely and where effects were not significant or
widespread." (FR. 58, p. 9252) (NSA Fact Sheet #104)

Yet EPA created a raging scientific debate over how much of the nine least threatening toxic heavy  metals (out of 126
listed Toxic Priority Pollutants) in sludge it would take to harm public health and the environment. EPA even removed all
references to Chromium (a carcinogen) from the beneficial use section of its sludge policy and no one asked why. Not
only that, but EPA claims it has little or no data on airborne toxic contamination, even though 5 of the chemicals it
proposed for regulation in 1989 were acknowledged cancer causing agents by inhalation.

While EPA measures the pollutants in sludge on a dry weight basis (mg/kg), there are no restrictions on the disposal of
the "exceptional quality" sludge fertilizer pollutants, Arsenic, Chromium and Nickel up to 10 meters from our water
sources, even when sludge is disposed of at 98 percent liquid. If the "exceptional quality" sludge fertilizer has been
designated "Class A" (for pathogen reduction), there are no disposal restrictions. (part 503.14,& 503.15)

Is it safe? Only if it is being dumped on crops. According to EPA, "When sewage sludge is not used to condition the soil
or to fertilize crops or vegetation grown on the land, the sewage sludge is not being land applied. It is being disposed of
on the land. In that case, the requirements in the subpart on surface disposal in the final part 503 must be met." (FR.
58, 32, p. 9330)

However, the exceptional quality sewage sludge fertilizer is too dangerous to be disposed of in a part 503 surface
disposal sanitary landfill, it must be disposed of in a solid waste sanitary landfill under 40 CFR 257/258.
Under part 503, only the least dangerous sewage sludge may be disposed of in a surface disposal landfill, that is sludge
with less than 73 ppm of Arsenic, 600 ppm of chromium and 420 ppm of Nickel. (40 CFR 503.23, Table 1)

Part 503 is even more restrictive within 25 meters of a surface disposal sanitary landfill boundary. The pollutant
concentrations must be less than 30 ppm of Arsenic, 200 ppm of Chromium and 210 ppm of Nickel. (40 CFR 503.23,
Table 2)

New York City had two major problems with the heavy metals, lead and chromium: the "Mass weighted average of 90%
confidence limits, all 12 NYC WPCPs; July 1979 to June 1981" was "6,400 ppm" for lead, and 4,230 ppm for chromium,
whereas the New York State Criteria limited lead and chromium in beneficial use sludge to "1000 ppm". (see, Yapijakis,
1987, study, Table 5, P. 139)

According to "Sources of Heavy Metals and Their Impact on Wastewater Treatment and Receiving Water Bodies' Quality
--- Case Study of Metropolitan Area", "The 1970 to 1972 study of the sources of heavy metals in New York City
wastewater concluded that even with zero discharge by industry, 94 percent of the zinc, 91 percent of the copper, 84
percent of the cadmium and 80 percent of the chromium being discharged would continue to be discharged by
sources virtually immune to treatment." (p.133)

While there is little doubt that pretreatment programs will help eliminate some pollutants from the wastewater treatment
plants, it may not be the answer the NRC claimed that would make the major difference, particularly, for New York City.
"After pretreatment, either through local limits or categorical standards, 83% to 84% of New York City sludges would still
be unacceptable for land application." ..."the reason for this is that non-domestic sources of pollutant loading, not
industrial sources, are primarily responsible for interfering with this sludge use." (p. 142) (Wat. Sci. Tech. Vol.19, No. 9,

EPA's public relations campaign appears to be working for New York, according to the Water Environment Federation /
EPA Biosolids Fact Sheet 1, Figure 2, New York City sludge was extremely clean by the time it arrived at the arid lands
of the 128,000 acre west Texas ranch owned by Merco. When compared to the Texas, New York and Federal standards
(p. 2), chromium was down from the average 4,230 ppm to 93 ppm and lead was down from the average 6,400 ppm to
193 ppm.

How did the New York City sludge become so clean? The answer can be found in the WEF/EPA Biosolids Fact Sheet 1,
"the biosolids are analyzed and tested routinely for pollutants and disease causing organisms using Toxicity
Characteristic Leachate Procedure (TCLP) tests." (p.5) The TCLP test actually measures the amount of a toxic
substance that can be chemically leached out of a test sample, while the part 503 guidelines are based on the total
concentration of the toxic substance in the test sample. Two different types of scientific tests, therefore, two extremely
different results.

Chromium concentrations (3000 ppm) was deleted from the 1996 CFR Part 503.

In 1991, Part 258 municipal landfill regulation identified eight metals to be analyzed by the POTWs during the first phase
of ground water monitoring: Arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, and silver. -- copper, nickel
and zinc were added as well as antimony, beryllium, cobalt, thallium, and vanadium ---because the Agency believes that
the metals pose serious threats to human health and the environment. Yet, no ground water monitoring is required for
beneficial use.

The "exceptional quality" sludge fertilizer can contain up to 75 ppm of Arsenic, unlimited Chromium and 420 ppm of
Nickel. (40 CFR 503.13, Table 1)

According to the EPA:
Because of the expense of installing ground-water monitering wells, the Agency determined that most POTWs reporting
in the NSSS [National Sewage Sludge Survey] incorporated sewage sludge into the land for disposal [called dedicated
land application in the NSSS] would shift to land application rather than continue to use the land strictly for disposal. (58
FR p. 9374)

In 1994, the Leather Industries of America, Inc et al v. EPA suit. The City of Milwaukee, and the Association of
Metropolitan Sewage Agencies and City of Pueblo challenged EPA's National Sewage Sludge Survey (NSSS) in a court
case, because it didn't include any treatment plants where tannery waste chromium is received in excess of 30,000
mg/kg (ppm).

The major conclusion: The United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, ruled: "(1) regulatory safe harbor for
land application of sewage sludge based on the 99th percentile levels of chromium and selenium indicated in national
survey violated Clean Water Act." (40 Federal Reporter; 3d series, p. 392)" (NSA Fact Sheet # 106)

According to the Court records, which only refer to heat-dried sludge, EPA could not document whether it had actually
performed sampling and analysis at 208 or 180 of the 479 treatment plants in the survey (both numbers were given)
-out of a national total of 11,407 (p.395).

According to the court record, the highest level of chromium reported in the EPA's NSSS
was 3,750 mg/kg (p.401). The Court also noted, "there are several studies cited in the record showing that trivalent
chromium can oxidize to hexavalent chromium." (p.406)

The Court noted that, "while EPA "may `err' on the side of overprotection," it "may not engage in sheer guesswork
(p.408)." According to the Court, EPA did not adequately defend the science behind the chromium limits in Part 503.
They ruled due to, "(4) the lack of data to support the risked-based cap on chromium (3,000 ppm), we remand those
parts of the regulation to the EPA for modification or additional justification." (p. 394)

As one example shows, beneficial use originially allowed 3000 ppm of Chromium to be placed on crop land vs. 600 ppm
of chromium for surface disposal. (Part 503.13 Tables 1 and 3 / part 503.23 Table 1)

It would appear that removal credits was another major concern of the AMSA arguments, which was rejected by the
Court. The Court noted, "Under the statute, removal credits are only available if they do not prevent the ultimate sewage
sludge from complying with the regulation at issue, the sludge use and disposal regulation. see 33 U.S.C. part 1317(b)."
(p. 400)

Leather Industries of America, Inc. et al. V. EPA(United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, Nos.
93-1187, 93-1376, 93-1404 and 93-1555)
There is more to this story than meets the eye. According to researchers at Cornell, a comparison of the trace metal
content of fertilizer, manure, and sewage sludge revealed that in 1994 Milwaukee's Milorganite sludge fertilizer had
2,940 ppm of chromium in it. In effect, Milorganite fertilizer could not be placed on a part 503 controlled sludge only
surface disposal where chromium is restricted to 600 ppm. Nor could it be used as a beneficial use sludge in New York,
Vermont, Massachusetts, or Maine where chromium in sludge was restricted to 1,000 ppm. Dairy manure in contrast,
had no chromium in it.

Under the disposal section of 503.23, only three pollutants are eligible for removal credits, while the beneficial use
section of 503 allows removal credits for all the pollutants. (Appendix G to part 403 - FR. 58, p. 9386)
The Court did not order EPA to drop chromium from the regulation as John Walker claimed in the 1995 Guide to the
Part 503 Risk Assessment.

Walker lied when he wrote:
The court stated that EPA should drop chromium from the Part 503 rule because the biosolids risk assessment did not
identify any chromium level associated with risk to public health or the environment. EPA agrees and plans to delete all
chromium limits for land-applied biosolids from the Part 503 rule. (p. 56)

The EPA released "A Guide to the Biosolids Risk Assessments for the EPA Part 503 Rule" in
September 1995 which acknowledged that the risk assessment was a sham. The only cancer risk
assessment was based on the organics that were proposed for regulation, but were never
regulated. According to the writers, EPA's John Walker, Linda Stien, Robert Southworth and James Ryan, as well as
USDA's Rufus Chaney, "--the Part 503 metals were considered noncarcinogens (they do not cause or induce cancer)
for the exposure pathways evaluated." (pp. 110-11).

The EPA had already identified twenty-one carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in the proposed sludge regulation.
Five of these are carcinogenic when inhaled, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium IV and Nickel (FR 54, p. 5777).
Actually, there are four choices available to the treatment plant operator for sludge disposal, three
of the choices are highly regulated:

1. Dispose of sludge in a solid waste landfill under 40 CFR parts 257/258 where human health damages would be very

2. Incinerate sludge under the provisions of 40 CFR 503 where human health damages would be limited to an EPA
estimated 10 people per year.

3. Dispose of sludge in a highly regulated sludge only surface disposal site under part 503, providing the sludge does
not have over 600 ppm of chromium in it, where human health damages would be very limited.

4. Since the chromium level in beneficial sludge for use on crops could be unlimited (over 3,000)  the treatment plant
operator has to make a major choice, get a permit to dispose of the sludge as a solid waste under part 257/258 or dump
it on crop land as a beneficial fertilizer, which is excluded from the safety and liability provisions of the federal law, and
where human health damage (high blood pressure from lead) is estimated by the EPA to affect only about 501 people a

According to the EPA's preamble to the 503 regulation, "Sewage sludge with a high (in this case,
high is 600 ppm of Chromium) concentration of certain organic or metal pollutants may pose human health problems
when disposed of in sludge only landfills (often referred to as monofills) {part 503, surface disposal}, or simply left on the
land surface, if the pollutants leach from the sludge into ground water. Therefore the pollutant concentrations may need
to be limited or other measures such as impermeable liners must be taken to ensure that ground water is not
contaminated." (FR. 58, 9259)

Yet, the EPA "assumes" the following hazardous substances and their compounds are safe at the ceiling level in sludge,
when used as a fertilizer and the NRC Committee appears to agree. In any other case, the pollutants are poisons and
seven of the regulated pollutants in sludge will cause mutagenic effects:

Arsenic (NIOSH CC 4025000) by inhalation or ingestion-carcinogen-mutagenic data.
Cadmium (NIOSH EU 9800000) by inhalation and other routes-carcinogen-mutagenic data.
Chromium (NIOSH GB 4200005) by inhalation and other routes-carcinogen- mutagenic data.
Copper (NIOSH GL 5325000) by ingestion and other routes-carcinogen-mutagenic data.
Lead (NIOSH OF 7525000) by ingestion and other routes-carcinogen-mutagenic data.
Mercury (NIOSH OV 4550000) by inhalation and other routes-carcinogen- mutagenic data.
Molybdenum (NIOSH QA 4680000) by inhalation, ingestion and other routes.
Nickel (NIOSH QR 5950000) by inhalations, ingestion and other routes-carcinogen- Mutagenic data.
Selenium (NIOSH US 7700000) by inhalation and other unknown routes-carcinogen-(causes blind staggers in cattle)
Zinc (NIOSH ZG 8600000) by ingestion and other routes-carcinogen.

The NRC report did find one potential problem area with feed corn grown on sludge amended soil for swine. "Hansen et
al., (1976)" ...."did observe elevated levels of hepatic mircosomal mixed function oxigase (MFO) activity. This increased
MFO activity may have been caused by toxic organics and inorganic trace elements in sludge, and the authors
concluded that further study should be performed before such grain can be recommended as the major dietary
component for animals over long periods." (pp. 113)

According to a 1991-93 Canadian Government study (8/97), "Airborne Hexavalent Chromium in Southwestern Ontario",
approximately 20% of the routinely monitored ambient airborne
chromium (Cr) was in the hexavalent form." In addition, the range of carcinogenic health risks attributed to airborne
Cr(vi) was determined to be between 1.4 (in 100,000) and 3.0 (in 10,000) for people living in the Winsor area." For
people spending all of their time outdoors the range increased to between 3.6 in 100,000 and 5.5 in 10,000. This
estimate was based on potency factors developed by our own EPA, the California Department of Health Services and
the World Health Organization. [23]

Apparently they have never done any basic research or they would have found that hexavalent chromium (Cr-VI) is
almost exclusively manmade. Natural occurring chromium is in the trivalent (Cr-III) form. Hexavalent chromium has been
found in glue, cement, detergents and other materials including chromite ore. It is/was used in the chrome plating,
corrosion inhibitors, dye, graphic art supplies, fungicides, lithography solutions, paper matches, paint pigment
manufacturing, wood preservation and the leather industry.

Hexavalent chromium is produced by three methods, high-lime, low-lime, and lime-free processes. In 1975, most of the
chromite ore came from the Republic of South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, and the USSR. No chromite ore has been
mined in the United States since 1961.

EPA has suggested that the sewage treatment process changes the carcinogenic nature of hexavalent chromium-VI
used in the leather industry to the non-carcinogenic form chromium-III. The literature suggests that chromium-VI at low
pH (less than 4) can oxidize water to oxygen thereby resulting in chromium-III. However, the literature also suggest that
above ph 4, chromium-III will be oxidized by oxygen into Chromium-VI. Cropland must be maintained at a pH of 6-7 to
prevent other toxic metals from being taken up by plants. In effect, all metals and particularly, chromium compounds are
very sensitive to pH balance and the oxidization process would appear to become extremely effective in transforming
natural occurring chromium-III from the soil into Chromium-VI when the pH is raised to 11 or 12.

Adding lime during the waste treatment process to create Class A sludge raises the pH to 11 or 12. It is used to control
odors and is one of the recommended methods of treating sludge to reduce pathogens--- sludge is mixed with lime, and
the pH is raised above 12, where it must remain for at least 72 hours.

In effect, it would appear the EPA's Class A treatment process is at a minimum reactivating the
chromium-VI compounds. As we saw from the Canadian study, chromium may be one of the most dangerous elements in
the sludge products EPA is promoting for uncontrolled
distribution to the public.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health and AQUIRE Database, ERL-Duluth, U.S.EPA, chromium is a cancer
causing agent and a mutagen. "It has been shown to cause lung and throat cancer." Under the New Jersey Department
of Health Right to Know Program, "Chromium (III) and chromium (VI) both have high chronic toxicity to aquatic life; no
data are available on the long-term effects of chromium to plants, birds, or land animals." According to the report, "Some
substances increase in concentration, or bioacummulate in living organisms as they breath contaminated air, drink
contaminated water or eat contaminated food. These chemicals can become concentrated in the tissues and internal
organs of animals and humans."

The report notes that, "Acute (short-term) toxic effects [which are seen two to four days after animals or plants come in
contact] may include the death of animals, birds, or fish, and death or low growth rate in plants." "...chronic (long term)
health effects can occur at some time after exposure to chromium and can last for months or years." "Chronic toxic
effects may include shortened lifespan, reproductive problems, lower fertility and changes in appearance or

"REASON FOR (New Jersey's) CITATION of chromium in the Right to Know Program:

* It is on the (EPA) Hazardous Substance List because it is regulated by OSHA and sited by ACGIH, NTP and ARC.

* This chemical is also on the Special Health Hazard Substance List because it is a CANCER CAUSING AGENT and a

* Chromium is a CANCER CAUSING AGENT in humans. There may be no safe level of exposure to a carcinogen, so all
contact should be reduced to the lowest possible level.

The National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists Chromium as a poison. It is also on the "Special
Health Hazard Substance list, as well as #15 and #72 on the 1995 CERCLA/EPA Priority List of Hazardous substances
found in landfills. NIOSH first recommended standards for Occupational Exposure to Chromium (VI) in 1975. It was so
concerned about the medical and carcinogenic dangers that "Preplacement X-ray and X-rays for the 5 years preceding
termination of employment and all medical records with pertinent supporting documents shall be retained at least 30
years after the individual's employment is terminated."

Although government regulatory agencies (e.g., OSHA, ACGIH, EPA) recognize that chromium is very dangerous in the
workplace at 8 hour exposure levels, EPA claims farmers can't be hurt when they are exposed 24 hours a day. As an
example: OSHA: The legal airborne permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 1 mg/m3 averaged over an 8 hour work shift.
[That is 1 ppm per cubic meter of air]

ACGIH: The recommended airborne exposure limit is 0.5 mg/m3 averaged over an 8 hour workshift. [That is 1/2 ppm per
cubic meter of air]

In the Federal Register/Vol. 58, No, 32/ Friday, February 19, 1993/Rules and Regulations, p. 9384, EPA says:
There are other pollutants that may have not been recommended for study because EPA lacked sufficient data
regarding the risk they presented...However, it must be recognized that the decision to regulate some pollutants and not
others was in part based on the availability of  information on the pollutants...the decision not to regulate does not
necessarily mean that the unregulated pollutants may not threaten public health and the environment."
At least 75,000 new synthetic chemical compounds have been developed and introduced into commerce, fewer than
half of these compounds have been tested for their potential toxicity to humans, and fewer still have been assessed for
their specific toxicity to children. (FR Vol. 62, No. 192, October 3, 1997, p. 51854)

There have been three federal court rulings which affect this situation:
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals restated the case that sludge is a pollutant under the CWA which must be disposed of
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. GORDON PAUL COOPER, Defendant-Appellant.  No. 97-50296
(BNA) 1477; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 2623; 29 ELR 21044

the Washington District Federal Court ruling (cited above) which found that the EPA had/has no credible science, except
for a few pot studies, to support the 95 percentile limits for chromium -- therefore, EPA arbitrarily removed it from the
beneficial use section of part 503 policy; and

the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found there was no scientific evidence to show that sludge was safe, only scientific
opinions and, there were just as many scientific opinions against its use.
Merco Joint Venture  v. Tri-Star and EPA's Hugh Kaufman

EPA stated that it didn't regulate all the priority pollutants (toxic pollutant--chemicals) because Congress wanted it to
address many more toxic/hazardous substances that could effect sludge disposal. The 2002 edition of Sittig's Handbook
of TOXIC AND HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS AND CARCINOGENS contains 2,608 pages and yet, EPA only lists nine
toxic/hazardous metals of concern in sludge. It is certain that this larger number of toxic/hazardous chemicals and
pathogens is what Congress wanted EPA to address before sludge was ever put on our food crops.-