G. Bynum, Ph.D
                                         NATIONAL SLUDGE ALLIANCE
                                                         FACT SHEETS
                                                         by   Jim bynum    (LSI)     
NSA Public Facts #114  -- Revisited 2005
May 10, 1997

                                 Toxic Sludge: Timeline to Disaster

1927 - The use of heat dried sludge (which killed [SOME] pathogens) was first used as a mixture in fertilizer. (PF
#112)        The process created endotoxins. Causes "extrinsic allergic alveolitis", Farmers Lung Disease,
Sewage Sludge disease.

1936 - Studies found that sewage polluted water was the cause of Cholera outbreaks in London.

1945 - There were 19 cities selling heat dried sludge as a fertilizer. However, the toxic heavy metal were known
as "rare earths".
(PF #112)

1972 - Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments which mandated and funded the
building of sewage treatment plants to eliminate the discharge of toxic pollutant contaminated sewage into the
lakes and rivers. The sewage treatment process created millions of tons of sludge.
(PF #113)

1972 - Congress enacted the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. It was not intended to be the primary source of
sludge regulation, only a cautionary measure to provide additional protection against dangers to the navigable
waters caused by careless land disposal and deep ocean dumping of sewage sludge.
(PF #104)

1974 - USDA studies found that tobacco grown with sludge fertilizer multiplies the Cadmium in the soil. Other
studies have shown an increased Cadmium content of 15 to 20 times that found in the soil.

1976 - Congress classified sewage sludge as a solid waste in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA), which must be disposed of in a sanitary landfill.
(PF #100)

1979 - EPA issues Solid Waste Regulation 257, which prohibits open dumping of solid waste, including sludge,
however, it allowed limited use of sewage sludge with Cadmium and PCBs in it as a fertilizer.

1980 - Congress enacted Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
to close the loopholes in RCRA and give the EPA more power to protect public health. (PF
#100, #102)

1980 - Food and Drug Administration recommended that crops that are eaten raw should not be grown on land
where sludge is used for three years after the fact, because food contaminated by sewage sludge can be
considered adulterated because sewage sludge can be regarded as a filth. (
PF #109)

PAHREN. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. Published in the WEF's Journal Water Pollution
Control Federation.  Lucas reviewed the nonmicrobiologic contaminates of wastewater aersols, noting that toxic
gases and myriad chemicals, both organic and inorganic, may pose a significant hazard to wastewater treatment
workers and potentially to the general public in surrounding areas.

1981 - "Airborne Irritant Contact Dermatitis due to Sewage "Sludge" in the Journal of Occupational Medicine,
November 1981, 23, (11) p. 771-4 reported how an airborne irritant in sewage sludge caused an outbreak of
cases of dermatitis among incinerator workers employed in a sewage treatment facility.

1981 - Cornell studies found that organic extracts from "non- toxic" sludge killed mice quicker than that from
"toxic sludge. Also noted that mutagenic components of sludge could be transported through crops to animals.

1981 - EPA, FDA, and USDA issued beneficial sewage sludge statement SW905. Yet, the methodology was not
available to test for dioxins or pathogens and EPA "assumed" only Cadmium and PCB's in sludge could effect
human health. (PF
#100, #109)

1981 - Municipalities began pilot projects to use liquid and semi-dried pathogen contaminated sludge as a
fertilizer on food crop production land.
(PF #113)

1983 - EPA changed the labeling of recycled hazardous waste derived commercial fertilizers to regulated
recyclable material and then finally to recyclable material. (
PF #112)

1984 - Congress enacted the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HWSA) to the Solid Waste Disposal Act,
sewage sludge was still classified as a solid waste which must be disposed of in a sanitary landfill.

1984 - "Biological Health Risks Associated with the Composting of Wastewater" , they found there were biological
effects on the workers from their exposure to composts. Physical examinations of the control group revealed
there was an excess of abnormal eye, ear, nose and skin conditions among the workers exposed to the
composts.  Nose and throat cultures were positive for Aspergillus fumigatus. Published by predecessor to WEF.

1984 - EPA issued beneficial sewage sludge use policy WH-595. (PF #100)

1985 - The one limited health study done on sludge used in food crop production noted that suitable landfill sites
were being exhausted and municipalities simply turned to farmland as application (dump) sites. The study also
noted a cycle of Salmonella infection from humans to sludge to cattle, to humans had been documented in 1971
and 1981. (PF
#110, #111)

1986 - Courts found that EPA could not authorize toxic sewage sludge pollutant pretreatment credits without a
sludge regulation in place.
(PF #108)

1987 - Congress defined sewage sludge as a solid waste and prohibited the open dumping of all sludges in the
reauthorization Act: HSWA of 1984, Safe Drinking Water Amendments of 1986 and the Superfund Amendments
of 1986. (
PF #100)

1987 - Study found that 83% to 84% of New York City sewage would be unacceptable for land application, even
after pretreatment standards were met.

1987 - an EPA- sponsored survey of distribution and marketed sludges in the U. S. (Yanko 1987) found that
Salmonella was often present in PFRP-treated sludges and sludge products (13) (high-temperature composting,
heat-drying, heat treatment, and thermophilic aerobic digestion). The conclusion of the author was that the
occurrence of pathogenic bacteria in distributed and marketed sludge products represented a potential health
hazard, but the extent of the health risk was unknown.

1988 - "Neurotoxic Effects of Solvent Exposure on Sewage Treatment Workers" in the Archives of Environmental  
Health, July/August, 1988 "that fourteen (74%) complained of central nervous system (CNS) symptoms consistent
with solvent exposure, including lightheadedness, fatigue, increased sleep requirement, and headache."

1989 - EPA proposes conservative sewage sludge use and disposal rules which identifies 25 family groups of
pathogens and 21 cancer causing agents. (
PF #108)

1989 - New York City Commissioner Schultz claimed 80% of New York City sludge couldn't be used in New York
State or anywhere else and requested that EPA revise the proposed rules to allow the use of its pathogen
contaminated sludge as a fertilizer. (
PF #102)

1991 - Was the last year Ocean dumping of sewage sludge was allowed because it destroyed the ocean
environment, contaminated the fish and shellfish. 94% of New York City sewage sludge dumping was transferred
to food crop production land. Food contamination reports begin.

1991 - Many municipalities had fully operational food crop production facilities for sludge application (
PF #113)

1991 - Health investigators blame E. coli outbreak in Massachusetts on apple cider and assumed the apples
used were contaminated by cow manure.
(PF #110)

1992 - EPA noted there are instances in sludge processing, such as composting were the coliform levels
(pathogens) can not be satisfactorily reduced.
(PF #110)

1992 - Farm Journal reports that sludge is under suspicion for the death and mutagenic effects of cattle on two
dairy farms and serious human health damage to the Zander family.
(PF #111)

1993 - February, New Mexico Environmental Department published Conference paper; Sludge Disposal: Sanitary
landfill - Open Dump - Superfund sites, which warns about the dangers of uncontrolled sludge dumping on food
crop production land.

1993 - February, EPA issued its self-implementing beneficial sewage sludge use regulation 40 CFR 503 based
on the domestic sewage exclusion in the RCRA. (
PF #100)

1993 - EPA acknowledges that the Domestic Sewage Exclusion in the RCRA only pertains to a hazardous waste
that is mixed with domestic sewage before entering a treatment plant.
(PF #104)

1993 - EPA regulation 503 authorizes disposal of toxic sludge as a fertilizer that is too dangerous to be disposed
of in a sludge only landfill. (
PF #100)

1993 - EPA acknowledges that exposure to pollutants in sewage sludge through the food-chain could cause
death, disease, cancer, etc. (food poisoning) (
PF #100)

1993 - EPA acknowledges 126 priority pollutants in sewage sludge, yet it only addressed 10 of them and they
are all listed as poisons by NIOSH. (PF
#100, #108)

1993 - EPA's self-implementing regulation claims sewage sludge is excluded from all Federal laws as long as it is
called a fertilizer, even if a Superfund site is created. (PF
#100, #101)

1993 - EPA Assistant Administrator claims there would be no CERCLA liability for municipality, land applier, land
user or land owner as long as sludge is considered to be a fertilizer.
(PF #100)

1993 - EPA acknowledges that if sewage sludge is mishandled it could contaminate the soil, water, crops,
livestock, fish and shellfish and it may pose human health problems when disposed of in sludge only landfills.

1993 - Milwaukee suffered through a human type Cryptosporidium plague. Over 400,000 people were infected,
4000 were hospitalized and over 100 [400] individuals died.

1994 - EPA promotes $300,000 grant request for Water Environment Federation (WEF) to debunk horror stories
of people harmed by the use of sewage sludge.
(PF #101)

1994 - EPA memo states part of the grant is from 104 funding, which is restricted to prevention, reduction and
elimination of pollution.
(PF #102)

1994 - State of Missouri notifies municipalities, it will no longer inspect sludge application (dump) sites for
compliance with EPA regulations.
(PF #100)

1995 - EPA/WEF Biosolids Fact Sheet brags that 27% of New York City sludge is used in Sierra Blanca, TX as a
fertilizer, another 67% is used in Arizona, Colorado and Florida food production land.
(PF #102)

1995 - EPA/WEF Biosolids Fact Sheet also acknowledges that EPA, NYC and Texas are allowing the use of
hazardous waste test level numbers (which are much lower) to meet the part 503 toxic pollutants limits for NYC
(PF #102)

1995 - Texas becomes the 11th state to enact food slander laws. (PF #109)

1996 - The EPA funded National Research Council (NRC) report noted that the limited capacity of sanitary
landfills were quickly exhausted and communities were not providing for new landfills.
(PF 110)

1996 - EPA funded National Research Council (NRC) Report claims it cost New York City $800 a ton to ship
sludge to Texas for disposal as a fertilizer. Average lead levels drop from 6400 ppm in NYC to 193 ppm in Texas.
(PF 103)

1996 - According to media reports, it only costs about $27 a ton in Wisconsin to dispose of sludge in a landfill
and Pima Gro System reports the cost is less than $40 a ton in California for sludge disposal.
(PF #103)

1996 - NRC report claims toxic sewage sludge is safe for use in food crop production based on information
supplied by EPA. However, the NRC report used a third party abstract, supplied by EPA, of one limited health
study concerning sludge used on food crop production land in Ohio. (PF
#109, #111)

1996 - Congress enacts Food Quality Protection Act.

1996 - The National Sludge Roundtable meets in New York and forms the National Sludge Alliance to counteract
the uncontrolled dumping of toxic sewage sludge on food crop production land.

1996 - The Centers for Disease Control estimates there are 50 million cases of food poisoning and 9,000 deaths
annually caused by such pathogens as Salmonella, E. coli Cyclosporia, Hepatitis A and others.

1996 - President Clinton wants to spend 43 million dollars to fight food contamination, such as the deadly
disease outbreaks caused by hamburgers, apple cider, orange juice, lettuce and strawberries.
(PF # 110)

1996 - WEF receives another $650,000 from the EPA with an updated list of Horror stories to debunk. (PF#101)

1996 - EPA is uncertain of Arsenic risk assessment and proposes 3 million dollar health study. (PF #100)

1996 - EPA threatens farmer with regulation of cow manure if she doesn't quit fighting the use of toxic sewage
sludge as a fertilizer. (PF
#101, #110)

1996 - EPA funded Water Environment Federation lobbies Congress to regulate cow manure as the cause of
nations water pollution problems.
(PF #101)

1996 - EPA deletes all chromium from the beneficial use (fertilizer) section of the part 503 regulation. Yet, only
very low levels of chromium can be placed in a sludge only part 503 landfill.
(PF #102)

1996 - EPA still refuses to release the Congressional mandated report on Mercury which was due in 1994, the
report may not be released for another 4 years.
(PF #109)

1997 - Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 For the purposes of this Statement of Principles, “extrinsic allergic
alveolitis” means an immunologically induced inflammation of the lung parenchyma involving mainly the alveoli
and terminal bronchioles, which develops secondary to repeated inhalation, by a sensitised subject, of any one
of a variety of antigens, “antigenic source” means the source of the antigen responsible for causing extrinsic
allergic alveolitis. Examples of antigenic sources include: · Sewage sludge contaminated with micro-organisms

1997 - EPA claims it has no role in enforcement of federal prohibition against open dumping of solid waste. (PF

1997 - CDC reports there were 15 deaths from E. coli between 1982 and 1992, during the pilot sludge project
program. Now, since the uncontrolled dumping of pathogen contaminated sludge began in 1991, there are 200
to 250 deaths and 20,000 E. coli-induced diseases annually in the United States.
(PF #113)

1997 - Congressman Serrano introduced a new Food Labeling Bill to identify food products grown on land
fertilized with sewage sludge.
(PF #109)

1997 - A New York State Bill was introduced by Senators Kuhl and Seward to make agricultural land on which
sludge is used ineligible for agricultural assessments.

1997 - A Vermont Bill was introduced by Senator McCormack to restrict the pollutants in beneficial sludge to 1/10
that allowed by EPA's part 503 regulation.
(PF #109)

1997 - EPA Peer Review Committee to review human health risk assessment model met in March
(PF #109)

1997 - EPA requested grant proposals for studying the availability of arsenic from ingested foods.
(PF #109)

1997 - EPA approves clean-up of radioactive superfund site by sending it into Denver Colorado sewage
treatment plant, to be mixed with sludge and sold as a fertilizer or used on food crop production land.
(PF #112) -

1999 - Neurotoxicity from Municipal Sewage Sludge study published, By Raymond Singer, Ph.D.October, 1999

2000 - House Science Committee Hearing held March 22, 2000. Joseph Cocalis of the CDC testified under oath
that the 503 sludge rule is indefensible from a public health standpoint ...and that under oath the EPA  director of
the Ecological Research System said the 503 sludge rule is NOT SCIENTIFICALLY  DEFENSIBLE ...people will
die from the rule!

2001 - ...foodborne illnesses cause 76 million cases of disease and 5000 deaths each year. ... infections and
their consequences on pathogen loading of sewage and sewage sludge. ...J. Air Waste Manage. Assoc

2002, The EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) officially released its report on EPA's sewage sludge rule, "e..
EPA has taken a position that "investigating health impacts from biosolids [i.e. sludge] is not an EPA

2002 - The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-
188; June 12, 2002) requires that the United States improve its ability to prevent, prepare for, and respond to
acts of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies that could threaten either public health and safety or
American Agriculture.

2004 - All the scientists agree that exposure to pathogens in sewage sludge will cause gastroenteritis.  Now
we see a new face on exposure to sludge. Doctors don't know its spread on home lawns as an
unlabeled fertilizer. They don't know the exposure can be spread on blowing dust. Pima County
Arizona has been warning residents there could be up two deaths a year from dust.  They don't talk
about their sludge/biosolids disposal program.

2005 - USDA adopted as a final rule, with changes, 7 CFR Part 331 and 9 CFR Part 121 that establishes
regulations governing the possession, use, and transfer of biological agents and toxins that have been
determined to have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety, to animal health, to plant
health, or to animal or plant products
That includes:
1 Any microorganism (including, but not limited to, bacteria, viruses, fungi, rickettsiae, or protozoa), or infectious substance,
or any naturally occurring, bioengineered, or synthesized component of any such microorganism or infectious substance,
capable of causing: (1) Death, disease or other biological malfunction in a human, an animal, a plant, or another living
organism; (2) deterioration of food, water, equipment, supplies, or material of any kind; or (3) deleterious alteration of the

2005 - EPA News Briefs for Aug. 10, 1) New Tests to Detect Previously Undetectable Bacteria . EPA's
proposal centers on culture-based approaches to detecting enterococci and Escherichia coli (E. coli)
in wastewater. Until now, no EPA-approved tests were available to detect these bacteria in

This is more of EPA's smoke and mirrors PR campaign:
A phenomena commonly known as viable but non-culturable state has been described for many
bacteria including Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Vibrio cholerae,Vibrio spp., and
Legionella pneumophila (Rollins and Colwell, 1986; Chowdhury et al.,1994; Roszak, Grimes, &
Colwell, 1984; Oliver et al., 1995) . The bacteria are still viable(exhibit low levels of metabolic activity)
but fail to develop colonies on most traditional solid culture medium. Moreover, pathogens in this
viable but non-culturable state have demonstrated the ability to return to an active potentially
disease causing state  (Colwell etal., 1985)