When Research Turns to Sludge

It’s not just corporate funding that creates conflicts of interest. Even government and nonprofit funding can have strings attached.

By Steve Wing

Environmental epidemiologists sometimes hear from people dealing with pollutants and sickness. So I wasn’t surprised when Nancy Holt contacted me about the millions of gallons of municipal sewage sludge being spread on fields near her home in Orange County, North Carolina. Sometimes, she said, the stench was so awful that she and her husband had to cover their faces when they went outside. They had trouble breathing. Sores broke out on her grandchildren’s bodies after they played in a nearby creek. She had her well tested. It was contaminated with bacteria and chemicals. Droplets of wet sludge covered her mailbox.

By the time she called me at my office at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nancy was fed up with the runaround from local, state, and federal agencies. Government employees had tried to reassure her that sewage sludge is safe, that existing rules protect public health, and that there is no evidence sludge ever harmed anyone. When she learned that our research group had been studying the effects of industrial hog operations on neighbors’ health and quality of life, she thought we might be able to evaluate the impacts of sewage sludge.

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PATHOGENS IN SLUDGE - BIOSOLIDS - RECLAIMED WATER

Why Would EPA Imply These Pathogens Are Not Disease Causing Organisms?
Part 503 list -1989
Why did EPA refuse to make this list public and removed it from the final 1993 Part 503?

THERE IS NO FEDERAL STANDARD FOR PATHOGENS. EPA Office of Water refers to pathogens in the Clean Water Act as Fecal coliform in Part 401.16. E. coli, Salmonella and Salmonella are members of a group of 12 bacteria that make a coliform under the Public Health Service STANDARD. They all create a virtually identical signature during a fecal coliform contamination lab test.

EPA Office of Water does not consider pathogens to be hazardous to the environment or human health because the Office of Hazardous Waste has never developed a list of disease organisms referred to as Etiologic Agents under part 261 Appendix VI. EPA also does not consider bacteria in the viable, but nonculturable state to be a hazards to you health when they regain the viable state.

As we all know from the media stories, at least E. coli and Salmonella will cause death, But the EPA document implies that the worse that can happen is that you get a case of gastroenteritis, rather than any actual organ damage. As you can guess, these are not the only pathogens in sludge - biosolids that could kill you. Click here for index to deadly disease bacteria and viruses EPA doesn't want to talk about.

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University of Georgia Wins, Scientific Integrity Loses

by David L. Lewis, Ph.D.
September 30, 2010

Wrong Focus by Scientists Should Be Next Inquiry: Expanding Antibiotic Resistant Plague

by Jim Bynum, VP and Gail Bynum, Ph.D
Help for Sewage Victims

7/27/2010

Irrigating Your Vegetables With Treated Sewage Water? Still Not a Good Idea if You Are Concerned About E. Coli

By Frank Pecarich
Retired Soil Scientist

Well, the season for growing leafy vegetables in Salinas Valley is mostly over until the spring. According to the history of the past 10 years, we will again see an outbreak of deadly E. coli 0157H: 7 sometime this coming summer of fall. We can safely say that because nothing of substance has changed since the furor over the 3 deaths and over 200 sickened citizens in the Fall of 2006.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans suffer 6.3 million illnesses per month, 27,000 people are hospitalized each month, and 416 die each month from something they ate.

We are being told that future attention to pathogen prevention in Monterey County will be mainly focused on animal grazing areas being too close to cultivated fields. That is because the primary “host” animal for E. coli 0157H: 7 is an animal like a cow. What isn’t appreciated is that when the pathogen E. coli 0147H:7 is ingested by a human, we humans are the “host” for that organism until it passes from our body.

In this last outbreak, there were 200 such humans who were harboring E. coli 0157H:7 plus all the others who were infected but did not report the disease. It has been estimated by pathologists and medical specialists that for every reported incident of E. coli 0157H:7 there are 9 more that are not reported. Those people then aided in the pathogen getting to another source of contamination, the sewer and ultimately, the local waste water treatment system. In the Monterey County incident, there may well be 2,000 people out there that were adversely impacted, not just the 200 as oft reported.

How Does It Get From Cows to Humans?

In addition to humans who are sick with drug resistant pathogens such as E. coli 0157H:7 passing their contaminated feces into the sewage system from their homes and the hospitals, blood and fecal material are flushed away from animal slaughter houses that can be contaminated with pathogens, like E. coli 0157H:7. Add to that source, the hospital treatment centers that have their sewage flushed into the local waste water treatment facility and you have a deadly toxic “Witch’s caldron” environment in the local sewer treatment system.

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Chez Sludge: How the Sewage Sludge Industry Bedded Alice Waters

BY John Stauber, July 9, 2010

Alice Waters

The celebrity chef Alice Waters is probably the world's most famous advocate of growing and eating local, Organic food. In February 2010 her Chez Panisse Foundation chose as its new Executive Director the wealthy "green socialite" and liberal political activist Francesca Vietor. Vietor's hiring created a serious conflict of interest that has married Waters and her Foundation to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and its scam of disposing of toxic sewage sludge waste as free "organic Biosolids compost" for gardens.

San Francisco's Mayor, Gavin Newsom, appointed Francesca Vietor as one of the five Commissioners who run the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission in 2008, just a year after the SFPUC began giving away toxic sewage sludge as "organic Biosolids compost." San Francisco, often dubbed the green city with a green mayor, was seemingly providing free "Organic compost" to urban gardens. It sounded too good to be true, and it was. While San Francisco does have an admirable program to collect vegetable waste and turn it into valuable garden compost, the city sells that stuff, the good stuff, Organic with a capital "O." What the city gives away for free as "organic Biosolids compost" is actually hazardous waste, sewage sludge, from San Francisco and eight other counties.

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Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Bribery, Indentured Science & PR

* By Ronnie Cummins & Alexis Baden-Mayer
Organic Consumers Association, February 4, 2010

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