MS Awareness Week

March 17, 2011 | Posted in: Opinion

March 14-20, 2011 is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. Please be conscious of the prevalence of multiple sclerosis in this area and in the United States. There is no known cure or cause of MS. There are many theories and genetic predispositions. But, personally, I believe the prevalence of man-made toxins in our environment are contributing to the extensive amount of autoimmune illnesses such as MS as well as the multitude of cancers in this country.

I have been informed of sewage sludge being dumped on our farmland all over Orange County. This sludge is given free to area farmers and may include “hundreds of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame-retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants” along with “antibiotic-resistant bacteria created through horizontal gene transfer.” This sludge is being dumped regularly on farmland in our county.

If you are as concerned as I am, I urge you to contact your congressman to support H.R.254, the Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act. This act would prevent food and animal feed from being grown on land spread with toxic sludge.

You never know what cancer or autoimmune disease you may prevent by stopping this practice. Please help stop the spreading of this unspeakable sludge concoction on our local farmland and all over the country.

And please remember this is MS Awareness Week.

Debbie L. Nichols
Chapel Hill

Is sewage sludge safe on crops?

Guest Column:
Published: Mar 16, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: Mar 15, 2011 05:43 PM

Is sewage sludge safe on crops?

by Betty Cross

A recent article in The Cary News highlighted a new dewatering device at the Cary wastewater treatment plant. The new equipment will separate liquid from solids resulting in dewatered sewage sludge, which can then be labeled as "fertilizer." There is much more to know about the composition of sewage sludge than is revealed in the story. Wastewater treatment plants were never designed to produce fertilizer. Wastewater treatment plants were designed to clean the water discharged from the plant.

Though sewage sludge contains nitrogen and phosphorous beneficial to crops, it also contains myriad other chemicals, heavy metals and pathogens harmful to the environment and human health. The Environmental Protection Agency sets limits for only nine heavy metals (out of 28) and certain pathogenic bacteria. Only a few organic chemicals are measured out of thousands in use. Because our waste streams have been channeled into centralized wastewater treatment plants, everything sent down the drain from homes, hospitals and businesses, along with stormwater runoff and landfill leachate, winds up concentrated in sewage sludge.

Two examples of chemicals harmful to humans, and for which limits in sludge have not been set, are the antibacterials triclocarban and triclosan. These endocrine disruptors are found in many consumer products and concentrate in sewage sludge. A study at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health determined that approximately 75 percent of the ingredients washed down the drain by consumers persist during wastewater treatment and accumulate in sewage sludge. In the EPA's Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, triclocarbon was found in 100 percent of the samples taken and triclosan was found in 94 percent. These two chemicals interfere with hormones needed for proper brain and reproductive system development in children. A recent study at Ohio State University shows that both chemicals can enter the food chain through sewage sludge used as fertilizer on agricultural fields. There is nothing in the dewatering process that removes triclocarban or triclosan from sewage sludge.

Another disturbing finding from the Water and Environment Research Foundation (WERF) is that dormant bacteria in dewatered sewage sludge can reactivate when exposed to air and water. The researchers suspect that anaerobic digestion and high centrifuge separation renders some bacteria viable but nonculturable, therefore non-measurable. Once the bacteria leave the treatment process, they can multiply exponentially. It seems there is no way to assure consumers that dewatered sewage sludge is free of pathogenic bacteria.

If shopping for compost or fertilizer this spring, whether in bags or in bulk, ask what's in it. If the answer is sewage sludge, please be aware, no one really knows what it contains or if it is safe to use. It hasn't been tested.

Cross is the co-chairwoman of the Sewage Sludge Action Network.

H.R.254 - The Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act

Stop Toxic Sludge Dumping on Farmland and Pastures!

Toxic sewage sludge used to be dumped into the oceans, killing fish and marine life. After public pressure put an end to ocean-dumping, toxic sludge began to be spread on farmland, touted as natural "fertilizer." In 1998 the sludge industry tried to get the USDA to allow toxic sewage sludge to be used as a fertilizer on organic farms, but the OCA's Save Organic Standards campaign and an aroused organic community stopped this insidious effort. Today millions of pounds of sludge are dumped on Monsanto's crops, including cotton, corn, and soy grown for animal feed and fuel. This toxic sludge is, by law, allowed to contain dangerous levels of pathogens, viruses and bacteria. The sludge pathogens that survive sewage "treatment" are the hardiest superbugs, bacteria that have developed a resistance to antimicrobials and antibiotics.

Toxic sludge used on food crops must be processed to reduce pathogen contamination, but is still rife with heavy metals and all manner of industrial chemicals from flame retardants to metal plating compounds.

If it isn't safe to dump in the oceans, it isn't safe to spread on farmland and pasture land!

Stop toxic sewage sludge from being dumped on farmland! Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor H.R.254 - The Sewage Sludge in Food Production Consumer Notification Act

Take Action

If the above hyperlink does not work, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=30921501

Sewage Sludge Action Network Reorganizes

The Sewage Sludge Action Network (SSAN) has announced that it has reorganized as a project of The Center for Community Alternatives, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in North Carolina.

SSAN is comprised of residents of Alamance, Orange and Chatham counties, and says it will continue to focus on educating the public about the risks to public health and the environment from the spreading of sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants on farmlands.

Each year hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage sludge are spread on farmlands in over 70 counties in North Carolina. Farmers are given sludge free of charge to be used as a fertilizer and are not informed about the vast amounts of unregulated, untested toxic chemicals that concentrate in sewage sludge.

Betty Cross, SSAN Co-Chair, said that antibacterials found in sewage sludge are a special concern. “Triclosan and triclocarban are endocrine disrupting chemicals that concentrate in sewage sludge. These two chemicals interfere with hormones needed for proper brain and reproductive system development in children. Studies show that both chemicals can enter the food chain through the use of sewage sludge used as fertilizer on agricultural fields.”

SSAN is working at a grassroots level on a number of projects that include:

  • Developing a farmer education program on the risks of using sewage sludge as a fertilizer;
  • Increasing buffers on sludge spreading near schools, day care centers and other public places;
  • Protecting drinking water supplies by removing sludge fields permitted in critical watersheds;
  • Advocating for stricter enforcement and regulation of sludge spreading;
  • Partnering with other organizations dedicated to protecting NC’s surface waters, drinking water supplies, farmlands, and public health; and,
  • Producing a local documentary that includes interviews with local residents about their opinions and experiences with sewage sludge.

"The mission of SSAN is to educate the public about the practice of spreading toxic sewage sludge on farm and forest land. In addition to poisoning farmland, sewage sludge contaminates groundwater, surface waters, the air we breathe and the food we eat,” said Myra Dotson, Chair of SSAN. “For 30-years this practice, disguised as “free fertilizer,” has turned farmland into toxic waste dumps, and has been largely unknown to citizens. The public has a right to know.”

The next SSAN meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Department, 6800 Orange Grove Rd., Hillsborough, NC 27278. Interested members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend.

For more information contact Myra Dotson, Chair, SSAN at (919)270-7534 or mdotson at sewagesludgeactionnetwork.com

Crops Absorb Pharmaceuticals From Treated Sewage

Each year, U.S. farmers fertilize their fields with millions of tons of treated sewage and irrigate with billions of gallons of recycled water. Through this treated waste, an array of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) make their way unregulated from consumers' homes into farm fields. Now researchers find that at least one crop, soybeans, can readily absorb these chemicals, which raises concerns about the possible effects on people and animals that consume the PPCP-containing plants (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es1011115).

Researchers have previously shown that food crops take up veterinary medicines from manure fertilizer and some cabbage species absorb human pharmaceuticals when grown in hydroponic conditions. But environmental scientist Chenxi Wu and colleagues at the University of Toledo in Ohio wanted to determine if a major food crop could absorb common PPCPs under more realistic agricultural conditions, such as plants grown in soil. If the chemicals do find their way into the crops under real-life conditions, they could be toxic to the plants, Wu says. "Or they could accumulate through the food chain, and eventually end up in human consumers," he adds.

In a greenhouse experiment, the scientists focused on soybeans, the second most-widely grown crop in the U.S. Half the plants grew in PPCP-tainted soil, to simulate fertilization with treated solid waste, while the researchers irrigated the other half with chemical-spiked water, to replicate wastewater irrigation. They laced water and soil with three pharmaceuticals—carbamazepine, diphenhydramine, and fluoxetine—and two antimicrobial compounds found in personal care products—triclosan and triclocarban.

The scientists analyzed plant tissue samples by mass spectrometry at two life stages: just before the soybeans flowered and after they sprouted beans. Wu and colleagues found that carbamazepine, triclosan, and triclocarban concentrated in root tissues, eventually moving into the stems and leaves. The antimicrobial compounds triclosan and triclocarban also accumulated in the beans themselves. But the soybean plants barely absorbed diphenhydramine and fluoxetine—the chemicals only appeared at low concentrations in the roots. Overall, the plants absorbed the chemicals more efficiently by irrigation than through the soil. The researchers are still trying to determine why.

Environmental chemist Chad Kinney of Colorado State University, Pueblo, says the study underscores the need for further research into how PPCPs behave in agricultural settings. "The first thing you have to consider with human exposure through agriculture is whether it's even possible," Kinney says. "That's what was answered by this study."

Wu thinks that more toxicology studies should come next: "If you find those compounds in the plant, what are they going to do to the plants or to animals that eat the plants?"

Long-Lasting Chemicals Threaten the Environment and Human Health

ScienceDaily (Dec. 21, 2010) — Every hour, an enormous quantity and variety of human-made chemicals, having reached the end of their useful lifespan, flood into wastewater treatment plants. These large-scale processing facilities, however, are designed only to remove nutrients, turbidity and oxygen-depleting human waste, and not the multitude of chemicals put to residential, institutional, commercial and industrial use.

So what happens to these chemicals, some of which may be toxic to humans and the environment? Do they get destroyed during wastewater treatment or do they wind up in the environment with unknown consequences?

New research by Rolf Halden and colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University seeks to address such questions. The group's results, reported recently in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, suggest that a number of high production volume (HPV) chemicals -- that is, those used in the U.S. at rates exceeding 1 million pounds per year, are likely to become sequestered in post-treatment sludge and from there, enter the environment when these so-called biosolids are deposited on land.

read full article

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.

jump to full article

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.

read full article

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.

read full article

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.

go to full article

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

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

SEWAGE SLUDGE OR BIOSOLIDS? Is It A Toxic Hazardous Solid Waste or Safe Fertilizer? Ignorance, Confusion, and Lies

What you don’t know about sewage sludge, aka biosolids, could change your life and those of your family forever through exposure to its deadly coliform, bacteria, viruses, helminths, protozoa, fungi, organics, synthetic organics and inorganic heavy metals. Sewage sludge is the biological active aggregates (bacterial biofilms-pathogens-residual-organics-solids of the secondary biological sewage treatment process. In 1981, EPA, FDA
and USDA signed a Statement of Federal Policy and Guidance allowing sludge to be used as a fertilizer on fruits and vegetables. Most people, including medical doctors, those with Ph.D's, regulators, politicians, judges and especially farmers, have been convinced by EPA that sewage sludge is safe for use as a fertilizer. They are unaware there has never been a risk assessment for the dangerous toxic chemicals, pathogens, or metals in sludge.

go to full article

A Backlash After San Francisco Labels Sewage Sludge "Organic"


— By Josh Harkinson | Thu Mar. 4, 2010 3:45 PM PST

Activists wearing face masks and haz-mat suits dumped a pile of sewage sludge on the steps of San Francisco's city hall today to protest the city's practice of marketing the material to home gardeners as "organic compost." The US Department of Agriculture's organic standards explicity prohibit organic produce from being grown on sludge-treated land. "The City of San Francisco owes an apology to all of the food consumers in California who have been eating non-organic food grown on sewage sludge," said Ronnie Cummins, president of the Organic Consumers Association. He was wearing a haz-mat suit on which he'd written a message to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: "Organic gardens aren't toxic waste dumps."

go to full article

Pages

Subscribe to Sewage Sludge Action Network RSS