<< I am curious about the use of the term *biosolids* and whether they
*other agricultural run-off.>>
Sewage sludge (a.k.a. biosolids) contains everything industries and
consumers dump down the drain, including Toxic Release Inventory
hazardous wastes, RCRA Superfund wastes, heavy metals, permitted and
banned pesticides, PCBs, incinerator ash and residual waters, landfill
leachate and other toxic wastes. Peter Montague writes: ''..Many
American cities have built sewage systems that mix storm water runoff
with the regular sewage; every time a rain storm scours these cities'
streets, additional toxins are added to the sewage sludge...As a result,
sewage sludge contains a strange brew of nutrients laced with low levels
of PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls];
dioxins and furans; chlorinated pesticides [such as DDT, DDD, DDE,
dieldrin, aldrin, endrin, chlordane, heptachlor, lindane, mirex,
kepone, 2,4,5-T, and 2,4-D]; carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic
hydrocarbons [PAHs]; heavy metals [arsenic, mercury, lead, selenium,
cadmium, etc.]; bacteria, viruses, parasitic worms, and fungi;
industrial solvents; asbestos; petroleum products, and on and on.
American industry uses roughly 70,000 different chemicals and any of
these can be found in sewage sludge --depending on who's pouring what
down the drain at any
given time and place. In addition to the original chemicals, unique
metabolites and degradation products develop anew in sludge. To give
but one example: trimethylamine can be converted to the powerful
carcinogen, dimethylnitrosamine. ''
For Toxic Release Inventory wastes, pick your state or community and
then, go to: <Http://www.rtk.net/www/data/tri_area.html>
Furthermore, legally hazardous wastes have been recycled into
fertilizer. In fact, ''The phosphate fertilizer industry is lobbying
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for permission to spread
radioactively-contaminated phosphogypsum onto roadbeds, or to use it as
a fertilizer. Phosphogypsum is a waste product of phosphate mining,
principally in Florida. By the year 2000, some 870 million cubic meters
(30.7 billion cubic feet) of radioactive phosphogypsum waste will be
piled up, awaiting disposition. Phosphogypsum contains 30 picoCuries of
radium per gram. Radium has a half-life of 1600 years. The phosphate
fertilizer industry proposes to hide this radioactive material beneath
roadways. The amount of phosphogypsum available in the year 2000 would
require 1.3 million kilometers (807,000 miles) of highway --about
one-fifth of all the roadways under state and federal control in the
U.S. Radioactive waste consultant Marvin Resnikoff says such
a program would be a "major public health disaster" because it could
cause thousands of cancers among unsuspecting citizens. ''
Seattle Times reporter, Duff Wilson writes: Farmers in Colorado ''say
they are unconvinced of the safety of a plan to send liquid waste from a
Superfund site through sewage treatment and apply it on a 50,000-acre,
government-owned wheat farm.
Lowry Landfill is one of the worst Superfund sites in the country, with
a brew of industrial solvents, petroleum oils, pesticides and
The EPA is considering the novel disposal plan in a ruling that may set
a precedent for new ways to clean up Superfund sites. ''
You may be interested to know that the regulations governing sewage
sludge are only for heavy metals and are weaker than the were during the
1970's with regards to protecting public health. In fact, they are
weaker than they are in Canada, the Netherlands, and Germany, according
to an article in Composting Frontiers. Let me know if you wish the full
So, even though agricultural runoff, per se, may not be diverted into
POTWs, certainly legally hazardous wastes are recycled into fertilizer
and spread on conventional agriculture with the apparent approval of the
USEPA, since laws are lacking that prohibit the practice. And, in fact,
a loophole in the U.S. basic hazardous waste law, RCRA, allows this to
For more information on biosolids, I urge you to read the online chapter
8 entitled THE SLUDGE HITS THE FAN of the book, Toxic Sludge is Good
for You! -- Lies Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry by John
Stauber and Sheldon Rampton of the Center for Media and Democracy.
Read about how Nancy Blatt, the public information (propaganda )
director of the Water Environment Federation was concerned that the
books title might interfere with the plans WEF had with transforming the
image of sewage sludge in the public's eye.
http://www.envirolink.org/issues/sludge/sludge.html#11 Read also about
the Secret Ingredients in biosolids and the Victimless Grime.
And, if you still want more, I've collected some articles that were
published in trade journals about how the USEPA's regulations were
weakened for sewage sludge marketing purposes.
What the public may not know is what was proposed for organic is the
current practice in conventional agriculture in the U.S. and
increasingly around the world. And, while the USEPA wants to do
something with the (conventional) agricultural runoff problem, they are,
in fact, using propaganda to give the public controlled information. In
the meantime, U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Robert
Perciasepe and the USDA Deputy Secretary, Richard Rominger had cut deals
to help WEF get rid of their residual biosolids. That deal was to be in
organic agriculture from what I have read.
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