Microplastics found in fertilisers being applied to gardens and farmland


Microplastics are making their way into organics fertilisers that are used in both domestic and agricultural settings ( Getty )

Many organic fertilisers being applied to gardens and farms contain tiny fragments of plastic, according to a new study.

Widely considered a problem affecting the oceans, this work suggests microplastics may actually be far more pervasive.

Having entered the soil, the scientists behind the study have warned these tiny fragments could end up in the food we eat.

The production of organic fertilisers is generally considered environmentally friendly as it involves recycling food waste from households and other sources to make useful products that can be used to grow more food.

However, contamination of the waste used to produce these fertilisers – which are used by gardeners and farmers alike – means tiny microplastics are making their way into the soil.

“One example is people use plastic bags and then put everything together in the bin, and then this is entering the waste treatment plant and ending up in the fertilisers,” Professor Ruth Freitag, one of the study’s authors, told The Independent.

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The Secret Life of Landfill: A Rubbish History Aug 25, 2018

Landfill leachate that is transported to the waste water treatment plant then ends up in sewage sludge. Learn more by viewing this film. The part about the leachate begins at fifty-two minutes and twenty-seven seconds.

‘Consumer Reports’ Finds Heavy Metals in Baby Foods


By Kathleen Doheny

Aug. 16, 2018 -- Heavy metals at levels called ''troublesome'' are lurking in foods commonly eaten by babies and toddlers, according to a new Consumer Reports investigation.

Scientists there studied 50 packaged foods made for children, from cereals to snacks, testing three samples of each. They estimated how much of each food a child typically eats, then looked at medical research on what levels of the heavy metals could cause health issues.

"We found troublesome levels of heavy metals, in particular inorganic arsenic, cadmium, or lead, in every single sample," says James Dickerson, PhD, Consumer Reports' chief scientific officer. "These heavy metals shouldn’t be in food, period.'' They can damage the nervous system, cause cancer, and harm children's development, he says.

Yet, "it's not that surprising'' the heavy metals were there, he says. They are found in nature. Most heavy metals in food come from water or soil contaminated through farming or manufacturing processes, from the use of pesticides, or pollution from leaded gasoline, the report explains.

What was especially concerning, Dickerson says, is that about two-thirds, or 68%, of the tested foods had very high levels of the heavy metals. "What we are concerned about is if you feed your child this [food with high levels of heavy metals], over the lifetime of their development, particularly during birth to 4, then you will have an increased risk of having cancer, for example."

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Is Your Food Grown In Sewage Sludge? Here’s How To Avoid It

“Mmm, I want a bit of sewage sludge to start my day,” said no one, ever. In today’s modern society, we are so far removed from where our food comes from. However, if most people knew what was going on behind the scenes, they would definitely consider becoming vegetarian before learning to grow all (or at least some) of their own food.

Growing up, I lived across from a farm and it wasn’t uncommon for my dad to use manure in the garden. This is a natural process and when used as a soil conditioner, it can provide plenty of N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). What’s not natural is the use of sewage, including toxic chemicals and human waste.

Yes, you read that right. “Treated” sewage sludge is being used to grow the foods we eat.

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What Lies Upstream

In the unsettling exposé What Lies Upstream, investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the unprecedented loss of clean water for over 300,000 Americans in the 2014 Elk River chemical spill. He uncovers a shocking failure of regulation from both state and federal agencies and a damaged political system where chemical companies often write the laws that govern them.

View full length film until May 1st at http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/videos/what-lies-upstream/

Puget Sound salmon do drugs, which may hurt their survival

Originally published April 6, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated April 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Researchers have found Puget Sound chinook are picking up our drugs as they swim through effluent of wastewater-treatment plants, and it may be hurting their survival.

By Lynda V. Mapes
Seattle Times environment reporter

Antidepressants. Diabetes drugs. High-blood-pressure medication. Puget Sound chinook are doing our drugs, and it may be hurting them, new research shows.

The metabolic disturbance evident in the fish from human drugs was severe enough that it may result not only in failure to thrive but early mortality and an inability to compete for food and habitat.

The response was particularly pronounced in Puget Sound chinook — a threatened species many other animals depend on for their survival, including critically endangered southern-resident killer whales.

The research built on earlier work, published in 2016, that showed juvenile Puget Sound chinook and Pacific staghorn sculpin are packing drugs including Prozac, Advil, Benadryl and Lipitor among dozens of other drugs present in tainted wastewater discharge.

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Sewage sludge train cars in Birmingham to be moved after 'death smell' complaints

By Dennis Pillion

Several dozen train cars loaded with what appears to be sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in New York and New Jersey will be pulled back into a rail yard and off the tracks in north Birmingham, according to a statement from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin's office.

According to photos and video posted to social media (featuring strong language), at least 80 train cars were parked on tracks Tuesday, near Finley Boulevard, between 27th Avenue North and 29th Avenue North.

The posting described a "death smell," emanating from the train cars, and said a local business had been getting calls about a possible dead body in the area due to the odor.

The train cars appear identical to shipments that have caused controversy and court battles in Jefferson and Walker Counties, as containers of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in New York and New Jersey are carried by train to the greater Birmingham area for disposal at the Big Sky Environmental landfill in Adamsville.

Personnel at the landfill were not immediately available for comment as to whether the containers sitting on the train in Birmingham were in fact headed for the landfill.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of train cars full of the sewage sludge have been rolling into the landfill since early 2017, generating citizen complaints about odors and legal action from municipalities at every stop.

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