Chapter One


The National Academy of Science's (NAS) 1996

literary review report by its National Research Council

(NRC) Committee : "Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in

Food Crop Production", dealt with the public health

perception issues associated with the toxic sludge used

in the production of crops for human consumption.

The public perception issues included: (1)

transmission of infectious diseases from the use of

sludge on food crops, (2) scientific evidence to prove

sludge was safe for use on food crops, (3) government

regulations to protect the public health from the use of

untreated sewage sludge or mishandling of sewage sludge

on food crops.

According to the report, the NAS was chartered in

1863, as a private, nonprofit society of distinguished

scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research

for the general welfare of the public, and with a

mandate that required it to advise the federal

government on scientific and technical matters.

Although the National Research Council (NRC), the

principal operating agency of NAS, is given credit for

writing the report on public health perception, the

report indicates it was reviewed by an internal

committee from the NAS, and its other operating

agencies, the National Academy of Engineering, and the

Institute of Medicine.  Therefore, the total

responsibility for this report, which advised the

federal government (Congress) that sludge used on crops

is safe belongs to the NAS.

The NAS Committee based their premise that sludge

was safe for use on crops on the assumption that: (1)

the EPA's risk assessment was accurate, (2) the federal

regulations were the laws, (3) the regulated procedures

would be followed to the letter, (4) the treatment

process and equipment would consistently produce the

same quality of sludge, (5) there were no scientifically

documented outbreaks of infectious diseases from the use

of sludge on crops.

According to the report, the rationale for the

literary review was the EPA's concern with the "food

processing industry's reluctance to accept the practice"

(of using sludge on crops grown for human consumption),

which was promoted by the (Environmental Protection

Agency) EPA, the (Food and Drug Administration) FDA, and

(United States Department of Agricultural) USDA, first

with a federal policy statement in 1981 on the use of

sludge for fruits and vegetables (EPA Report No.

SW905), and then as the published official EPA

beneficial sludge use policy (WH-595) in 1984, and now

as the 1993 sludge use regulation (guideline) 40 CFR

503, which the report refers to as the law.

The apparent purpose of the report is stated by the

NRC's Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) "formed

a committee representing diverse expertise and

perspectives to conduct an independent study of the

safety and practicality of the use of these materials

(sludge) for the production of crops for human


However, the NRC acknowledges in the Preface of the

report that this is a very biased report, funded by the

federal agencies and sludge dumpers in an effort to

change public health perceptions. It is directed at the

food processors, because the food processing industry

has been concerned about the safety of crops grown on

sludge, since the EPA, FDA, and USDA first "-developed a

joint statement of federal policy in 1981 to assure that

current high standards of food quality would not be

compromised by the use of high quality sludges and

(im)proper management practices." Apparently, according

to recent media articles, some food processors have now

been convinced that sludge is safe for use on crops.

In reality, there was no high quality sludge in

1981, nor are there any high quality sludges today, as

indicated by EPA research in the preamble to the sludge

use and disposal regulations.  The preamble to the part

503 regulation outlines the EPA's own literary review,

assumptions, lack of research, and warns that sludge is

not safe. In fact, the information given in the preamble

to part 503 as well as the regulation itself discredits

the NRC report and the Committee for its lack of basic

research methodology in the literature review.  The

EPA's cleanest sludge is too contaminated with toxic and

hazardous substances to be placed in a part 503

regulated landfill.

Furthermore, the NRC Committee were aware that the

EPA, FDA and USDA approved the use of sludge on crops

when, according to the EPA, "Methodologies and data are

not yet available to accurately estimate the ecological

impacts from the use and disposal of Sludge" (FR 54-p.

5780).  Data on processed sewage sludge was generally

not available from the special "40" city study (a

survey) to determine the fate of priority toxic

pollutants entering the treatment plants.  Moreover, at

the time of the study in 1979 and 1980, analytical

methods for measuring organic pollutant concentrations

in materials with high suspended contents were in their

infancy (FR 54-p.5763).  not only that, but in the final

form (proposed regulation) numerical limits were

proposed for only 28 pollutants.  Dioxin was not

included as a pollutant in this list because the EPA

lacked adequate data on the levels or pervasiveness of

it in sludge.  Nor did the EPA have adequate test

methods to determine the amount of dioxin in sewage

sludge (FR 54-p.  5760).

Furthermore, according to the EPA, on farmland, "no

accounting is made for removal by (1) soil erosion, (2)

leaching, (3) volatilization, or (4) absorption of the

plant and removal of the harvested portion of the plant"

FR 54-p.5768-5770).

The NRC report does note that higher levels of some

of the 126 priority toxic pollutants in sludge could be

placed on the land than allowed by part 503: "...and may

undermine the intent of the Part 503 Sludge Rule and

public confidence in the law." (p. 138) A pollutant can,

according to the EPA, damage health, cause deformation

of fetuses or cause death.

Furthermore, the NRC Committee states, "The (public

perception) study did not include an investigation of

what happens after the crops are harvested (e.g.,

processing of food products). (p. viii)

It is highly unusual that a scientific body would

attempt to influence the food industry, by concluding

that sludge was safe for use on food crops, without a

complete investigation of the pollutants in crops grown

on sludge amended soils.

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Review of National Academy of Science's (NAS) 1996 literary review report by
its National Research Council (NRC) Committee :

"Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production"

By 2002 the National Academy of Science knew it
had been improperly used by EPA and tried to
protect it's reputation with a new study claiming
EPA needed to update its science, because there
had been no literature review, (they did not
even review
Part 503.9(t)), some of the original
researchers for part 503 had run the part 503 Peer
Review Committee and moved on up to run the
NRC Committee -- knowing there had never been a
cancer risk assessment for chemicals, metals or
pathogens. Two key researchers and members of
both committees are listed below the 2002 Press

The new study was chaired by Thomas A. Burke,
professor, department of health policy and
management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg
School of Public Health, a colleague of the
co-author of this
1996 report, Michael Baram, a
professor of public health law at the Boston
University School of Public Health, one of the 14
authors of the report, who disagreed with the
reports conclusion, not for the misstatements of
facts on the federal regulations or law, but for the
infectious disease aspects.

2002 -- National Academy of Science
Committee on Toxicants and Pathogens in
Biosolids Applied to Land
Press Release

Sewage Sludge Standards Need New
Scientific Basis

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency's standards that govern using
treated sewage sludge on soil are based on
outdated science, says a new report from the
National Academies' National Research Council.
The agency should update its standards using
improved methods for assessing health risks, and
should further study whether treated sewage
sludge causes health problems for workers who
apply it to land and for residents who live nearby,
added the committee that wrote the report. More
rigorous enforcement of the standards is needed
as well.

"There is a serious lack of health-related
information about populations exposed to treated
sewage sludge," said committee chair Thomas A.
Burke, professor, department of health policy and
management, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg
School of Public Health, Baltimore. "To ensure
public health protection, EPA should investigate
allegations of adverse health effects and update
the science behind its chemical and pathogen

More on the press release

Two very Biased experts

Albert Page,
University of California, Riverside,
Committee Chair states, "The committee was not
constituted to conduct  an independent risk
assessment of possible health effects, but instead
to review the method and procedures used by EPA
in its extensive risk assessment, which was the
basis for the Part 503 Sludge Rule."

Dr. Al Page of the University of California at
Riverside (UCR), who was co-chair of the [part 503]
Peer Review Committee  with Dr. Logan was listed
as a metal bioavailability expert, as was
Dr.  Andrew Chang, Page's colleague at UCR, was
another metals bioavailability expert.

NRC -  Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in
Food Crop Production

Albert L. Page (Chair)
is Professor of Soil Science
and Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Soil
and Environmental Sciences at the University of
California at Riverside. Dr. Page received his B.A.
in chemistry from the University of California at
Riverside and his Ph.D. in soil science from the
University of California at Davis. his current
research interest is on the fate of trace elements
when applied to soils in the form of environmental

Dr. Page was a member of the National Research
Council's Committee on Irrigation Induced Water
Quality Problems.

Andrew C. Chang is Professor in the Department
of Soil and Environmental Sciences, and Director of
the Kearney Foundation for Soil Science at the
University of California, Riverside, California. He
received his Ph.D in Agricultural Engineering from
Purdue University. His areas of research include
the land application of municipal wastes,
environmental chemistry of phosphorus, physics
and chemistry of organic pollutants, and
methodology of establishing land disposal criteria.
He [
and Al Page] has conducted a study for the
World Health Organization on
Health-Related Chemical Standards for using
Reclaimed Wastewater for Crop Irrigation and
Sewage Sludges for Fertilizer. He has served
on several state and federal committees for risk
assessment of municipal sludge disposal.

Dr. Chang received the 1991 U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency Sludge Beneficial Use Award for
research, and the 1991 U.S. Department of
Agriculture Superior Service Award for Natural
Resource and Environment.