prions can be found in treated effluent and biosolids,
This is not new information. It appears that now that Walker & Rubin are gone, EPA will tell us
at least part of the truth. Click here for
The rest of the truth on Human prions.

Inside EPA - May 20, 2005

Just received this important new story on EPA research on BSE prions in
sewage sludge.

Preliminary EPA research showing the wastewater treatment process cannot
remove from biosolids disease-causing proteins known as prions could
complicate the treatment industry's push to dispose of biosolids through
land application, rather than in landfills or by incineration, EPA
scientists say.

The preliminary findings are part of research conducted by EPA's Office
of Research & Development and regions V and VIII to determine the best
disposal methods for animal carcasses infected with Chronic Wasting
Disease (CWD), which is caused when the animals ingest prions found in
the environment. CWD, which affects mainly deer and elk, is a type of
transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). Other forms of TSE,
including "mad cow disease," can affect sheep, mink, cows and humans.
CWD has been found in 23 states and five EPA regions, EPA officials say.

EPA Region VIII researcher Wendy O'Brien said May 17 at EPA's 2005
Science Forum in Washington, DC, that preliminary results from the first
phase of a two-phase study examining the fate of prions in wastewater
treatment shows that prions can be found in treated effluent and
biosolids, with biosolids containing most of them. O'Brien said the
presence of prions in biosolids may be problematic for publicly owned
treatment works (POTWs) because biosolids are sometimes used as
fertilizer, which would reintroduce the prions into the environment.

Wastewater treatment industry officials did not return calls seeking

The findings could complicate the wastewater treatment industry's
continued push to allow POTWs to land-apply biosolids as a fertilizer as
a less-costly alternative to incinerating them or transporting them to
landfills. The industry has faced intense scrutiny for the practice in
the past from environmentalists and food safety activists, who have said
land application releases cancer-causing dioxins and has caused cows'

Specifically, the Center for Food Safety in 2003 filed a petition asking
EPA to ban land application based on a Georgia court's finding that
sludge application on one dairy farm caused the death of hundreds of
cows, while the Natural Resources Defense Council has said in the past
that EPA should regulate potentially cancer-causing dioxins in the

Although EPA later denied the petition and declined to regulate dioxin
released through the practice, the agency has been reluctant to endorse
land application over other disposal methods. The wastewater industry
has asked for EPA endorsement of the practice to fend off lawsuits from
environmentalists who oppose the practice.

But agency water chief Ben Grumbles said in an October 2004 letter that
EPA would not "issue a statement favoring the beneficial reuse of
biosolids over other uses [because] we do not believe that EPA should be
involved in determining the biosolids management options most suitable
for a particular community."

Last year, EPA issued an interim practices guidance on land disposal of
prion-containing CWD-contaminated carcasses, outlining current best
practices and noting that several western states and Wisconsin have
relied on landfill disposal to deal with thousands of carcasses. The
guidance recommends steps to minimize migration of water from the
carcasses to surface waters and says it is preferable that the water be
re-circulated and not discharged to a POTW or through a direct discharge

Although EPA's interim practices guidance says the agency has no reason
to believe the current practice of landfilling these carcasses is
inappropriate, Susan Mooney, a landfill expert from Region V, said EPA
is working to improve its knowledge base for recommending best practices
by studying the fate and transport of prions in landfills.

S ource: Inside EPA via
Date: May 20, 2005
Issue: Vol. 26, No. 20
(c) Inside Washington Publishers