Tuesday, 11 April 2017

We Should Expect More out of Our Sewage Sludge



Below are some of the highlights from this important, recent assessment of land disposed Sewer Sludge - in the end, the conclusion these independent professors come to is simple: “ We do not advocate the continuation of land application”



Professors - Jordan Peccia*† and Paul Westerhoff‡


† Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University, Mason Laboratory, 9 Hillhouse Avenue, P.O. Box 208286, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, United States ‡ School of Sustainable Engineering and The Built Environment, Arizona State University, Box 3005, Tempe, Arizona 85287-3005, United States - Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015, 49 (14), pp 8271–8276 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01931 Publication Date (Web): June 24, 2015 Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society


Hazardous Chemical and Pathogen Content

Words that start with the letters “slu” do not usually connote something with a positive public image. Sewage sludge is no exception. Sludge is a record of what society excretes. This includes any pathogen that is contained in human feces, urine, and vomitus. A recent study found more than 27 different forms of human viruses in the sewage sludges of five large U.S. cities, ranging from Adenovirus to Corona virus to HIV.(1) Antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes are common in wastewater and biosolids.(2, 3) Stabilization is meant to reduce this pathogen load, usually by 1–2 orders of magnitude for class B treatments. Microbial risk analyses, which have typically shown limited risk to residents for Salmonella spp. and Enterovirus(4) have recently suggested significantly increased risk of infection due to emerging viruses such as Norovirus.(6) Metals and organic chemicals that resist biological mineralization can sorb to solid particles and also accumulate in sludge. These include polybrominated flame retardants, pharmaceuticals like Prozac and Tagamet, human hormones such as estrogen, antibiotics, narcotics including cocaine, and the metabolites of these compounds.(8, 9) Class B land application can include spreading tons of sludge per acre of land, producing a strong odor and attracting disease vectors. The chemical and microbial content and sludge odor are important drivers to the public resistance to land application.(10) Land application disputes are a large source of litigation and hundreds of human health complaints from residents living near land application sites have been logged.(11) More so than regulations, costs, or environmental concerns, those that manage biosolids land application programs cite concerns from neighbors, environmental groups, and others as the top pressures on their programs.(7)


Converting Infrastructure to Extract Value from Sludge

Sludge is the receptor of wastewater’s contaminants. It may not ever be feasible to treat the product to a level that contains no pathogens, no toxins, no hazardous chemicals, and no odors, and can be spread back into the environment with no public objections. Based on the above analysis, the more economical, socially acceptable, and environmentally sustainable approach may be to exploit sewage sludges for metals, nutrients, and energy.

Energy Recovery

One approach capable of achieving several treatment and recovery goals for biosolids would be combustion-based technologies associated with incineration, gasification or liquifaction. Combustion can destroy pathogens and mineralize persistent organic chemical contaminants, while producing energy and concentrating valuable metals and inorganic chemicals.

Conclusions: We Should Expect More

Sludge management is a central component of water quality engineering. Regardless of the approach to treating wastewater, primary and secondary sludge will be produced. A future that is concerned with economics, water usage, energy conservation, beneficial reuse, recycling and environmental health will demand more of sewage sludge. We do not advocate the continuation of land application, as it has limited social and economic sustainability

The whole paper can be read here - http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.102...




Monday, 27 February 2017

Dr. Richard Honour reflects on TSS (Toxic Sewer Sludge) after the "Biosolids" Forum in BC

Land-Disposed Toxic Sewage Sludge:            The Great Public Health Hazard Cover-Up



It’s a scary world out there, and even scarier now with the current global explosions... of cancer and infectious diseases, two self-imposed global public health hazards that recognize no borders or demographic boundaries.

A quick investigation of the world’s view on what may be the greatest public health hazards of our time reveals some ignored or otherwise missing dangers. Health agencies worldwide reveal new information on toxics, but lo and behold, with no mention of Toxic Sewage Sludge as a considerable, universal and inescapable hazard to public health.


The literature is filled with messages of risk, threat and harm (aka, death) associated with anything nuclear or radiological, or about cigarettes, opioid drugs or terrorists, or about industrial, medical or household toxics on a one-by-one basis, but little is presented about the obscure but pervasive killer known as Toxic Sewage Sludge, and even less about the on-going planned and intended route to constant human exposure via Land-Disposed Toxic Sewage Sludge.


More amazing is that government agencies, academic institutions and industry lobbyists (biosolids management associations and sludge disposal firms, as examples) continue to promote broad-scale contamination of our air, soil, food and water with Toxic Sewage Sludge, under a variety of product names, supposedly ‘treated’ by any of several methods promoted to render such toxics as being ‘safe’ or ‘in compliance.’ To them, human life has little value, while the value they ascribe to the sludge disposal industry is based on the value they place on their own selfish and personal interests.


Odd thing is, not one of them has ever performed a safety/toxicology test on a single sample of Toxic Sewage Sludge, so who guides and permits their behavior, and who then will be held personally liable for the resulting harm, injury and death? Their days of hiding are numbered.


Are we missing something, or are we are letting something sinister go by unnoticed, perhaps by plan and intent? Not necessarily so.




At a most excellent conference last week in Kamloops (Interior Scientific Forum on Biosolids, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC, Canada) multiple speakers presented lists and charts of hundreds (illustrative examples of thousands) of chemicals and infectious agents known to be in any and all Toxic Sewage Sludges, and at the same time we were presented with other lists of toxics known to be carcinogens, among their other adverse toxic characteristics. Curiously, when superimposed, the lists are nearly the same; the toxics known to be contained in Land-Disposed Toxic Sewage Sludge are generally the same toxics that cause cancer and so many other chronic diseases, with little exception.


The sources of the toxics are common municipal, medical and industrial sewage sludge, plus the leachates from solid waste landfills and stormwater runoff - the most toxic sources of all. While all of it is subjected to some superficial processing to achieve marginal or questionable compliance, none of it is treated to achieve Safety - none! Matters of Public Health and Safety, and of Human and Environmental Health, garner no appreciation in matters of the disposal of Toxic Sewage Sludge.


It is a criminal act to dispose of Toxic Sewage Sludge in our forests, farms, rangelands, foods, air and waters when the Safety (antonym of Toxicity) of the thousands of chemicals and pathogens in Toxic Sewage Sludge has never been tested or assured. No one has shown that individually or in combination (or through the near-infinite permutations of the combinations of toxics) that Toxic Sewage Sludge-borne toxics do not present risk or threat of harm to human or environmental health, meaning that such toxics must therefore be safe, a bold contradiction in terms, for sure.


Simply by invoking the Null Hypothesis, i.e., that Sewage Sludge is Toxic, it would be revealed (by validated toxicological testing methods) that if all possible tests are performed to show that Sewage Sludge is Toxic, but if said toxicity were not observed, then the Null Hypothesis would be rejected, and Sewage Sludge would be determined to be non-toxic (or Safe). Absent such testing, it must be concluded that Toxic Sewage Sludge is Toxic, and it must be asserted well that any person who produces, transports, spreads, promotes, authorizes or allows the Land Disposal of Toxic Sewage Sludge must be held criminally liable and personally responsible for any resulting injury or harm, near- or long-term, no matter the reason or cause for such toxic waste disposal.
Toxic Sewage Sludge is Toxic Waste.


There are alternatives for the proper treatment of Toxic Sewage Sludge, which are not only clear, but could represent a profit to the Toxic Sewage Sludge disposers. Thermal Conversion by any of several advanced technologies and methods, such as by gasification, as one example, easily converts Toxic Sewage Sludge into heat energy, yielding syngas for fuel, plus valuable ash and biochar for beneficial reuse, and then an absence of Toxic Sewage Sludge that inevitably kills us all. There are available alternatives, yet we watch the death rate climb, while such alternatives are being contemplated.


We cherish our forests, rangelands, wetlands, air, food and waters, which give us sustenance and peace, and now they are violated, for no good cause or reason. It is time to abolish all land disposal of Toxic Sewage Sludge.


Richard Honour, February, 2017.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

An Overview of the Dangers of Sewer sludge (Biosolids) by Thomas Maler, Ph.D.


Application of Sewage Biosolids on Land


The 2004 National Water Quality Inventory by the US EPA reported that 44 % of surveyed rivers and streams were impaired by pathogens and organic enrichment, and the top source of these impairments was from runoff from agriculture activities. In addition, 30 % of surveyed bays and estuaries were considered impaired by pathogens and organic enrichment, with municipal discharges/sewage listed among the top three sources of the impairment (US EPA, National Water Quality Inventory Report to Congress, 2004 Reporting Cycle, Jan. 2009). Also in 2004 approximately 60 % of total “biosolids” produced in the US were applied to land, (NEBRA, A National Biosolids Regulation, Quality, End use and Disposal Survey—Preliminary Report, April 14, 2007). Since 2004 more stringent effluent discharge requirements and sewage treatment plant upgrades have resulted in significant increases of sludge production and hence the need to dispose of it in an acceptable manner. Public doubts regarding the efficacy and safety of land application have been supported by scientific research that indicates commercial chemicals, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, engineered nanoparticles and innumerable contaminants of emerging concern (COEC) are having a greater impact on the environment and public health than previously assumed (Abstracts of Presentations, “Environmental Protection in a Multi-Stressed World: Challenges for Science, Industry and Regulators,” 25th Annual Meeting of SETAC, 2015, Barcelona). Further studies and alternative methods of extracting and processing the components of sewage and disposing of the sludge are required. There is potential for reducing the life cycle costs of sewage treatment plants, recovering energy and destroying or immobilizing harmful components instead of being applied to land, (Biosolids Management Strategies: An Evaluation Of Energy Production As An Alternative To Land Application, Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, Jul 2013).

Composition of sludge/biosolids.


Sewage sludge, when treated in an anaerobic digester or further treated with heat or alkali is now called biosolids in order to make it sound more acceptable for “beneficial” uses such as spreading on farmland. The sludge/biosolids contains nutrients useable for plant growth, however they also contain in addition to human and animal wastes, 30,000 or more different toxic chemicals from pharmaceuticals, hospital, household and industrial waste, bacterial, viral and other parasitic biological pathogens, multi-drug resistant bacterial/Superbugs and prions, heavy metals, micro-plastics and micro-fibres. One class of these thousands of chemicals in sludge/biosolids is called PPCPs or Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products and these compounds are taken up by plants in hundreds of micrograms per kg of plant tissue and nothing is known about the effect of this on the plants and on the animals that consume them including humans. The uptake and metabolism of these thousands of different compounds varies greatly with their composition. (M. Bartrons, J. Peñuelas, TRPLSC 1514, 12, 2016, p.10).

Health Effects


Damage to DNA from environmental chemicals is likely a major cause of cancer, birth defects, and this uptake may contribute to heart disease and other health effects. Genetic defects get carried over to future generations; exposure to mutagens is from natural sources but increasingly from synthetic chemicals such as industrial chemicals, pesticides, hair dyes, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, (Bruce N. Ames, Dept. of Biochemistry, UC Berkley).

When substances have a similar mode of action, their concentrations can be added together to predict their combined effect. This includes concentrations below levels of concern and the toxicity effect is larger than the sum of the components. Although antagonistic and synergistic effects occur, the additive effect of toxicity is generally what occurs (Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Dick de Zwart and Leo Posthuma, Vol 24, Issue 10, Pg 2397-2713 – Modeling of single and multiple chemicals in the environment).

Environmental oestrogens in wastewater treatment effluent are well established as the primary cause of reproductive disruption in wild fish populations but their possible role in wider effects of effluents is under study. Filby et al, revealed a clear link between oestrogen in effluent and diverse, adverse and sex-related health impacts on resident fish species, (Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 115, No. 12, Health impacts of oestrogen in the environment, considering complex mixture effects, December 2007, Amy L. Filby, Teresa Neupath, et al).

What happens to the contaminants in the sludge/biosolids?


If governments continue to allow the application of 30,000+ chemicals and PPCPs and many countless biological pathogens on the land, they should prove beyond any reasonable doubt that these contaminants are either removed from the sludge/biosolids before land application or will be destroyed when applied on the land. However, the proof is simply not there. This is a herculean task, it will be impossible to measure the concentration and the rate of removal or the decomposition of 30,000+ chemicals applied on the land. The technology does not exist to measure these thousands and thousands of chemicals and the cost of doing so even if it were possible would be prohibitive. Even though endogenous soil bacteria can probably degrade a small number of chemicals in the sludge, the metabolic pathways to degrade and destroy 30,000+ synthetic chemicals that did not exist in the past, do not exist. A certain amount of these thousands of chemicals will be water soluble and with other small particles including microplastics they will get washed away with the rains and will end up in the streams, rivers and the ocean or will contaminate aquifers. Effluent discharges have been expressed as the mode for contamination that is reputed to play a role in the formation of “dead” zones or oxygen depleted “hypoxic” zones in lakes and the near shore oceans around the world (Scientific American, 2008; National Ocean Service, US Dept. of Commerce, 2010). The oceans are exploding with dead zones (Business Insider, June 26, 2013), and the zones appear to be increasing in size over time.

Clearly, there are toxic chemicals in sewage sludge.

We also do not know anything about what other toxins can form from a 30,000+ chemical soup when sludge is being treated/turned into biosolids. Furthermore, nothing is known about what synergistic effects this chemical cocktail will exhibit when applied on the land. Another unknown is what effect the many antibiotics present in the sludge/biosolids will play on the plant microbiota or on the microbiota of the animals that live on the land where the sludge/biosolids get applied. Both endogenous bacteria as well as mycorrhizal fungi play a crucial role in the growth of plants and trees and altering this microbiome with antibiotics present in the sludge/biosolids can easily negate its nutritional benefits.

Biological Pathogens


Sewage sludge/biosolids also contains largely an unknown number of bacterial and viral pathogenic organisms, protozoan and other parasites and even prions. What is often never discussed in the pro-sludge and biosolids literature is the fact that ALL sewage treatment plants in the world, including all secondary and tertiary treatment plants breed Superbugs or multi-drug resistant bacteria, (Y. Luo et al, Environmental Sci. Technol. Lett. 2014, 1, 26-30; A. McGlashen, Sci.Am. 2017, 01/18.) The reason is simply the fact that antibiotics end up in sewage and during the treatment process with bacteria, the bacteria that acquire antibiotic resistance will get selected in the presence of antibiotics in the sewage. However, the level of treatment (secondary or tertiary) will affect the degree of ocean protection from the contaminants in the sludge. The sludge is simply settled out in secondary treatment and the effluent which is too dirty to be reused typically gets pumped to a receiving environment, such as, a river, lake or into the ocean. However, in tertiary treatment, the sludge gets filtered from the water with 0.04 micron membranes and this step will remove not only the bacteria, but also the source of the bacterial multi-drug resistance or Superbugs, the plasmids. Plasmids are small circles of DNA which contain the genes for the drug resistance and can confer the resistance not only to same species bacteria, but also to unrelated bacteria such as the endogenous soil bacteria. These small circles of DNA called plasmids can survive outside of the bacteria either in water or can even survive for hundreds or possibly even thousands of years in a completely dry state. Plasmid DNA has even survived on the surface of a rocket shot into space and the heat of re-entry into atmosphere, (D.F. Maron, Sci. Am. Nov. 26, 2014). So it is totally unrealistic to hope that Superbug DNA will somehow magically disappear if we let the sludge sit on the land for a few months. The addition of 5-10 or larger micron size disc filters suggested to improve the quality of the effluent instead of the 0.04 micron membrane filters used in real tertiary sewage systems will do nothing for the environmental protection because it will NOT filter out plasmids or anything else smaller than the pore size of such filters.

Fraser Health has repeatedly found cases of the deadly CRE (Carbapenem Resistant Enterococci) in BC Hospitals, however CBC has reported (CBC News, Jan. 30, 2017) that many other hospitals in other provinces are silent on these outbreaks and that there were apparently 160 cases of CRE outbreaks between 2010 and 2012 (Public Health Agency of Canada). These and other Superbugs make their way into the sewage treatment Plants from the hospitals, homes and industrial facilities and so it makes sense that we should not spread them or plasmids containing the genes for this resistance on the land where they can further contaminate and multiply their resistance genes.

Micro-plastic and micro-fibres


Sewage contains micro-plastics from a variety of cosmetic products and micro-fibres that are released into waste water from laundry and industrial processes. These microscopic plastics will remain on the land or be washed from the land into streams, rivers and into lakes and the ocean where they will do their environmental damage. A recent study by the International Maritime Organization, the UN Organization responsible for preventing marine pollution, and carried in

Science and Technology Journal and also reported by CBC, posted to their web site on January 17, 2017 indicates that microplastics are now found in supermarket fish and shellfish. They have infiltrated every level of the food chain in both the marine and fresh water habitats and now we are seeing them come back to us on our dinner plates, (Chelsea Rochman, University of Toronto, 2017). These materials not only enter the gut but also their tissue says Peter Wells, senior research fellow at International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University. He goes on to say, it’s not only the micro-plastics but the myriad of chemicals that come with them, chemicals such as PCB’s, pesticides, flame retardants and hormone disrupting compounds of many kinds. Although micro-plastics come from many sources and are known to carry chemicals of emerging concern, it behooves us to eliminate sources where possible, including the land application of sewage biosolids.

Micro-plastics are found at an alarming level in Canadian Lakes, Science and Technology Journal, and also reported by CBC, January 2017. They are a concern in lakes worldwide and they are often found at alarming levels says Anthony Ricciardi, professor at McGill School of the Environment. Their source is often municipal coming from the washing of clothes but also from industrial sources and are found at 43,000 plastic particles per square kilometer which jumps to 466,000 near cities around the Great Lakes.

No one wants to eat fish that contains non biodegradable plastics including the many toxins absorbed to these plastics, so it makes sense not to spread them onto land in sludge/biosolids in order to stop further contamination of both the land and the waters.

Micro-plastics are synthetic polymers and cannot be broken down by microorganism no matter how long they will sit on the land or in the ocean. They will survive for many hundreds of years without any noticeable degradation and are eaten by fish, plankton and other marine and fresh water animals, (M.L. Taylor et al, Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 33997 (2016). As noted, the actual toxicity of the micro-plastics themselves is also increased by absorption of toxic chemicals onto their surface. These polymers can't be broken down/metabolized by any creature that ingests them and so if they are loaded by absorbed toxins, they become even more lethal, (M.A.Browne et al. Current Biology, 2013; 23 (23): 2388).

The indefinite Problem


Tens of thousands of these components will contaminate the land for decades and perhaps hundreds if not thousands of years once they are applied on the land and there simply is nothing one can do to decontaminate such land. Furthermore, the tests that would determine the extend to which these toxins will be taken up by the plants or animals we consume simply do not exist, with 30,000 different synthetic, man-made chemicals it is unrealistic and impossible to measure the fate of these chemicals once they are applied on the land. The same goes for the vast majority of biological pathogens like Superbugs that will be spread on the land with the sludge. Once micro plastics from sludge are applied on the land, they will contaminate the land for hundreds of years or waterways if they get washed away by rain. Once it’s applied on the land, it will either stay there or will end up in the rivers, lakes or the ocean - the genie cannot be put back into the bottle once it gets out so the best solution is not to apply this toxic mixture on the land in the first place.

What do we do with it these sludge toxins? How do we safely dispose of this sludge/biosolids?


The wastewater industry currently has a preference to treat sewage sludge and turn it into a material called “biosolids,” a marketing term developed to make it more appealing to farmers to encourage spreading it on the land. It represents a relatively inexpensive way to dispose of the sewage biosolids. Sewage sludge treated in an anaerobic digester converts approximately half of its carbon into biomethane, however, the problem remains what to do with the remaining 50% of the solid residuals. There are risks associated with anaerobic digesters, they are known to explode, thus the reason they are not installed in built-up residential areas.

Thermal conversion is also an option for sewage biosolids disposal, with a remaining issue on how to safely dispose of the ash should it contain potential heavy metal issues. There are two types of thermal conversion, firstly, incineration which has been rejected in many jurisdictions because of the large volumes of air pollutants released during the process; and secondly, gasification which reforms (or manufactures) the sewage biosolids into synthesis gas (syngas) and does not have the massive air pollution issues of an incinerator. In advanced gasifier systems there are no direct air emissions at all. Small gasification systems, suitable for the disposal of sewage biosolids, have only recently been developed having started in Europe in the mid 1990’s. These first generation systems have given way to further development into second and third generation systems which are much more reliable, stable and efficient than the earlier systems. The Advanced gasifiers can handle either dewatered raw sewage sludge or dewatered treated biosolids from a digester, the only difference being higher syngas production from the raw sludge. Due to their size compared to anaerobic digesters and municipal incinerators they are much more cost effective and require far lower operating costs as well.

Lessons learned


K. Noguera-Oviedo and D. S. Aga (J. of Hazardous Materials, 316 (2016) 242-251) reported on the lessons learned from more than two decades of research on emerging contaminants in the environment. Just like the exponential growth of research papers published on the topic of Emerging Contaminants (ECs) in the period of 1995-2015, detection techniques have been vastly improved and the amount of data has also grown exponentially. Noguera-Oviedo and Aga identified five (5) lessons learned from research of the past 20 years and reported that these lesson matter now more than ever before.

Lesson 1: Emerging Contaminants have emerged worldwide in Waste Water Treatment Plants effluents and in surface water, drinking water and groundwater. The precautionary principle should be used in dealing with management options for this material.

Lesson 2: Treatment does not mean complete removal and application of the sludge on the land only exacerbates this problem.

Lesson 3: Metabolites and transformational products matter, meaning that during the treatment or after it, the mixing of thousands of these chemicals often forms new compounds that are more dangerous than those that they originated from. That’s the nature of chemical processes and unless we actually destroy the mix, new toxins will continue to emerge from the old ones, whether it is on the land or in streams, rivers, lakes or the ocean.

Lesson 4: Unconventional testing of the effects of toxicity are needed, because of the complex mixture of chemicals in the effluents and in the sludge. The simple testing done by the pharmaceutical industry while developing new drugs does not apply in this new world of toxic waste chemicals.

Lesson 5: Even the most advanced tools can miss the target. The exponential growth of scientific literature in detecting these compounds will not negate the need to prevent even further contamination of the environment by persistent ECs.

In conclusion, it seems obvious that application of sewage sludge/biosolids on the land is not the answer to dispose of these toxins and pathogens. Disposal of the sludge mixed with municipal solids waste or with wood chips in a gasifier is the only safe way to go because it completely destroys the toxic chemicals and pathogens. Not putting this toxic soup on the land is the only way of protecting our environment and that’s the primary reason for treating our sewage in the first place.

Experts from Cornell Waste Management Institute


Dr. Caroline Snyder’s, emertitus professor, Rochester Insttitute of Technology, written testimony to the PA House Demoncratic Policy Committee, Public Hearings on sewage sludge has been summarized as follows:

“Experts, including soil scientists at the internationally renowned Cornell Waste Management Institute, who have studied biosolids - since the 1970s - with hundreds of peer reviewed papers to their credit, oppose using biosolids and biosolids products on the land where we grow our food and forage. Additional research teams led by Hale, Lewis, Wing, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, and others have reported and documented serious health, environmental, and agricultural harm linked to land application. The damage from this pollutant-rich waste mixture is not just "potential;" it has already happened. It is a gross travesty to call this material "eco-friendly" or to claim that the process "sanitizes" the solids. In fact, standard methods to further process sludge to a so-called Class A product actually encourages the growth and proliferation of endotoxins, and superbugs, as the more vulnerable indicator pathogens are deactivated, which explains why a number of sludge-exposed neighbors suffer from MERSA infections and life threatening respiratory symptoms. With mounting scientific evidence that current regulations and policies do not protect human health, agriculture, or the environment, why are US and Canadian agencies still promoting this harmful practice? For the answer see http://www.sludgefacts.org/testimony_to_pa.pdf

Land application is not "recycling"; it is simply transferring a complex mixture of toxic chemicals and pathogens from our large industrialized urban centers to arable farms; nor is the practice "strictly regulated." Current biosolids management is highly energy intensive using fossil fuel for processing and transportation, thus - actually adding greenhouse gas emissions (on top of all the pollution produced by hauling these materials all over). Finally, it is ludicrous to claim that using the nation's arable soils as a repository of persistent toxic chemicals, many of which bioaccumulate in the food chain, "enhances soil health".”

Thomas Maler, Ph.D. (chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology) Victoria, BC


Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Toxic Trio - Clark, Polak, and Tegart

The Toxic Trio – Clark, Polak, and Tegart



Over the past few years, under this Liberal government’s watch, the Fraser-Nicola Riding area has become a convenient dumping ground for much of the surrounding cities’ toxic waste.

The cities get all the benefits of a clean, green environment, while the rural populations shoulder all the risks associated with increasing levels of toxins in their environment.

This trio has completely ignored the independent soil testing done by the Suzuki Foundation - which found sufficient contamination on ranchlands near Merritt to categorize it as a contaminated waste site.

Recently, the Liberals quietly (without any public input) changed the guidelines around pollutants in soils, increasing allowable toxin levels – in some cases thousands of times higher than previous thresholds.

It is time for change in this riding, and in this province. There are better, greener ways to deal with our waste. This Toxic Trio has shown time and again that it is only willing to support old, dirty and unsustainable practices – trucking this sewage out to rural environments – out of sight, out of mind.


       Reflecting on the “Position” of the Fraser-Nicola Riding:

Stretching long and thin just east and inland from the coast, moving north from Hope through Lytton, Merritt, Clinton and upwards, the newly defined riding is wonderfully rural, while being still close and accessible to the burgeoning population of the Lower Mainland.

The Liberal government (and its MLA for the riding, Jackie Tegart) sees this proximity as an asset – not for the riding’s citizens, but for the population near the coast. We are seen as an easily accessible disposal site for much of the waste generated in these neighbouring cities. We are the dumpster in the alleyway – the place to throw the nasties, so Metro can call itself Green! Truckload after truckload of this waste is disposed of in our riding, slowly toxifying our environment and our future.

Should we not see this proximity to the Lower Mainland as a real opportunity to develop a thriving tourism industry – a sustainable basis to create lasting jobs in the riding? There is so much to offer here – and the city dweller can access it so easily! Pushing a green industry like tourism would enable us to maintain what is left of our pristine rivers, lakes, forests, and ranchlands. It would ensure a cleaner, heathier future for the generations to come.

Help us put an end to the short-sighted, cynical vision Jackie Tegart and the Liberals have for our riding. Let’s stop the degradation of our riding, and begin to safeguard it for its natural beauty – a real resource that we can market to that huge population just next-door!

It is time for Metro to really take care of its own waste problem, and stop pushing its toxic burden on us and our beautiful riding. It is not healthy, not sustainable, and not very neighbourly!

The election is coming up fast – use your vote to support a new approach. There are alternatives to land dispersal of waste:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcq_soCc6dc

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-37981485

http://biosolidsbattleblog.blogspot.ca/

https://twitter.com/biosolidsbattle

https://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheNicolaValley/

https://www.facebook.com/ToxicCanada/

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Three Informed Views on Sewer Sludge (aka Biosolids)

Three Informed Views on Sewer Sludge (aka Biosolids)



Dr. Caroline Snyder - "Land-applied municipal sewage sludge (biosolids) is a highly complex and unpredictable mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Biosolids generated in our large industrialized urban centers is very likely the most pollutant- rich waste mixture of the 21st century."

Dr. Marilyn Cameron - "We are concerned that farmers are not being provided adequate information about biosolids and the negative impacts that its use could have on your soils, groundwat...er and surface water sources, livestock health, and property values. Farmers will be the ones left paying the price for any damaged land, contaminated water, or human, wildlife and livestock illnesses, etc. Farmers may also suffer losses resulting from lack of consumer confidence in local foods"
 
Dr. Richard Honour - ""Few in any governments appreciate that nearly all chronic diseases are caused by long-term exposure to low levels of environmental contaminants and pollutants. We should be trying to minimize this exposure, not amplifying it. It is time to end land disposal of Toxic Sewer sludge, and look at cleaner, greener alternatives - gasification / pyrolysis."


Let's get on the right side of history, and use this waste resource to make energy. It is time to stop covering Mother Earth with our cities' toxic sewage.


For more on this reckless practice please see -

http://biosolidsbattleblog.blogspot.ca/
https://twitter.com/biosolidsbattle
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheNicolaValley/
https://www.facebook.com/ToxicCanada/
http://www.sludgefacts.org/

Great jobs available in Soil Science, Agronomy & Agrology

Great jobs available in Soil Science, Agronomy & Agrology 


1. Learn all about how wonderful nature is.
2. Learn about how wonderful and complex soils are.
3. Learn all about the mycorrhizal world, and the awesome living dynamic world under our feet.
4. Then learn about just how many toxins you can spread (in sewer sludge / biosolids) over a given area in order to “fertilize” a given crop, while trying to keep all that wonder you’ve learned about still alive …
5. Learn how to sell a product that is partially a “fertilizer” but primarily a toxic waste product.
6. Learn to be a cog in the city waste disposal system.
7. Learn how to deceive farmers about the real product you wish to disperse on their beloved family farms
8. Learn how to employ techniques like obfuscation, deception, and half-truths
9. Learn how to sell out the future for your own personal aggrandizement now
10. Learn how to attract donors from Big Sludge to invest in your so-called “research”
11. Learn how to use language in new ways – “organic” will begin to mean “waste containing thousands of contaminants with some organic matter” and “sustainable” will mean “usable up to the point where we can’t apply any more toxins in a given area” … just to take two examples
12. Learn to find that “sweet spot” – the absolute threshold of toxins you can deposit on a poor farmer’s field and still keep it producing … and you’ll get paid for this talent !!
13. Learn how it is easy to disperse of extra toxic waste around tailing ponds, old mining operations, and industrial sites (under the guise of “fertilizing”) as the existing contaminants will make your culpability in further environmental degradation almost impossible to prove.

Agrology and Agronomy have seen quite a few changes over the years. Perhaps the most exciting (and lucrative) has been the time after regulations made ocean, lake, and river dispersal of city toxic waste illegal – It was simply too much pollution, and it was ruining our bodies of water. They did try incineration over the years too, but then a “clean air” act made that also a dead-end for our waste disposal. Some clever person thought about the last remaining option (other than flying it to the Moon) – land disposal of our toxic burden – and here we are today. Dear Mother Earth, and her soils, which are meant to sustain us, are now used as disposal sites for our toxic waste – under the guise of “fertilizer”

Agronomists and Agrologists call themselves “keepers of the land”
I think it is time they lived up to that name. It is time they stopped lining up at the Big Sludge money trough and started to defend the soils they pretend to love.

They are supposed to be guided by a code of ethics and be “responsible for protecting the interests of the public.” They claim to be “leaders in environmental sustainability” Well folks – spreading the toxic burden of our cities onto or farmlands and forests is not sustainable – it is short-sighted and reckless.

So Yes, there are Great jobs available in Soil Science, Agronomy & Agrology – just be ready and willing to sell your soul to the dark side!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Scientists react to BC Govt's So-Called Science Literature Review of "Biosolids"


Scientists react to BC Govt's So-Called Science Literature Review of "Biosolids"



A few observations on the newly released so-called Science Literature Review on “Biosolids

A note about terminology – I will be using the accurate phrase “sewage sludge” throughout my writing, as the industry and government term “biosolids” is a PR spin, used to present this waste, which is full of toxins, in a better light. I am not interested in supporting this deceptive language.

As John Werring perceptively points out, the opening paragraph of this document sets the stage for everything that follows:

“Biosolids are treated and stabilized wastewater treatment residuals. In BC, this material is largely beneficially re-used as a soil amendment in agriculture or other applications, including landscaping and site reclamation.” This is PR speak – not science! The very concept of its being “beneficial” is what is at stake here – it is not a given!! The bias is palpable throughout this document.

What is most obvious about this review is just how one-sided it is. It is not by any means an objective look at relevant science dealing with the risks associated with the land disposal of sewer sludge. When a review puts forth only documents which support a pre-determined outcome, it can only be seen as propaganda. Science and objectivity have gone out the window. This review is nothing more than a cherry-picked summary of articles that supports the government’s and industry’s agenda. There are many scientists who argue an opposing view to those collected in this booklet - and argue that disposing of a city's toxic sewage in this manner presents a serious threat to health. Obviously they were not included as they individually and collectively raise all kinds of red flags concerning the practice of land disposal of sewer sludge (See a selection of overlooked peer-reviewed articles printed separately).

Dr. Richard Honour has offered a few observations on this review. His comment are as follows:

Notes from the Review Document:

1.      “The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a Risk Factor as “any attribute, characteristic or exposure of an individual that increases the likelihood of developing a disease or injury” (WHO 2016).”

 Comment: Any person or life form in any environment that is exposed to sewage sludge, whether in air, water, soil or food, is placed at Risk for disease or injury by the fact that sewage sludge includes the accumulated toxic wastes from all human activity. These wastes include industrial and commercial chemicals, medical wastes, domestic wastes, meaning from households and small businesses, pharmaceutical and personal care products, infectious agents, and stormwater runoff, including from all impermeable surfaces, such as highway and road surfaces, parking lots, walkways, runways, rooftops and otherwise constructed sites. The wastewater treatment process separates toxic chemicals, infectious agents and other materials from raw sewage, and then concentrates them in sewage sludge at elevated levels. Few chemicals and microbes are destroyed in the wastewater treatment process, but are transported to disposal sites in the living environment. While in the treatment plant process, and subsequently at the disposal location, many microbes are killed, while others are amplified by re-growth in the disposed sludge environment. Also, antibiotic-resistant forms of infectious disease agents share their gene sequences with other microbes, thereby conferring their resistance characteristics to other microbes, thereby increasing the pool of resistant infectious agents. Similarly, many chemicals are degraded, but many new chemicals are formed newly in sludge, producing yet more chemicals, many with even greater toxicity. Typically, a few microbes and chemicals (and metals) are monitored, but only a few of the tens of thousands of current and novel infectious agents and chemicals disposed on the land and in our waters in land-disposed sewage sludge are monitored. All of the microbes, chemicals and metals in sewage sludge are valid Risk Factors for any person or life form in any environment exposed to sewage sludge, and that includes the environment itself. The only method of eliminating the Risk or the Risk Factors in sewage sludge is by Thermal Decomposition, with proper disposal or treatment of the resulting ash and gasses. Composting may dilute and mitigate the Risk from infectious agents and toxic chemicals, but the Risk Factors are not eliminated; composts that include sewage sludge assume the toxicity characteristic of the sewage sludge in proportion to the amount of sludge included. Once any amount of sewage sludge is included in any compost, the compost can no longer be considered as being Organic.

2.      “There are three main risk factors that determine the risk from organic contaminants in the environment: Persistence, Bioaccumulation, Toxicity (Arnot and Gobas 2006; Clarke and Cummins 2015; Government of Canada 1999 2000; USEPA 1999).”

 Comment: Please note that the Canadian Government recognizes that three main Risk Factors “determine the risk from organic contaminants in the environment: Persistence, Bioaccumulation and Toxicity.” Note also that all of the contaminants included in the subject review fall within one or more of the stated categories that determine Risk: They Persist and Bioaccumulate in the environment, and they are Toxic.

3.       “The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999) states that a substance is toxic if it enters the environment in a concentration or quantity that will have or may have immediate or long term harmful effects on the environment or its biological diversity, constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, and constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.”

Comment: Nearly all of the infectious agents, toxic chemicals and toxic metals found in nearly any sewage sludge were addressed by this Review. In general, a large portion of the chemicals and microbes detected in the sludges, “have or may have an immediate or long term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity, constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends, and constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.” The results of the Literature Review by LRCS for the Canadian Government describes clearly that the practice of land disposed sewage sludge must be banned in Canada, and that sewage sludge that is mixed, blended or combined in any way with compost must not be applied to any food crops or applied to any land that may leach or flow to any surface or ground waters. While the Review collected and evaluated a large portion of the relevant literature, our finding by review of additional literature support further that the practice of land-disposed Toxic Sewage Sludge must be banned in the better interests of human and environmental health. Any and all release of Toxic Sewage Sludge into our living environment places us all at risk, now and in the future. When considering the toxics in Toxic Sewage Sludge, it must be appreciated that some acute diseases may display clinical manifestations in the short-e-term, such as in days, weeks or months, but the clinical presentation of chronic diseases, such as neurological disorders, cancer, metabolic disorders or immune disfunction-related illnesses, may not appear for decades. Who will be responsible for the cancers that develop in the elderly, following a lifetime of exposure to toxic waste? Who will be responsible for the diseases of children who were exposed pre-birth, or even by mechanisms of environmental epigenetics, perhaps more than a generation previously? Exposure to toxic waste is slow genocide.

-          Richard Honour The Precautionary Group







Dr Thomas Maler has also read over the review document, and has made the following observations:

Summary of my comments on the Literature review of risks relevant to the use of biosolids and compost from biosolids with relevance to the Nicola Valley, BC

The generally arid climate of the Nicola Valley does NOT reduce the risks associated with application of biosolids on land. There is no such a thing as “beneficial” use of biosolids on land, because the risks always outweigh any benefits. It is impossible to test the composition of biosolids, because there are approx. 30,000 different chemicals in sludge and nobody can test them all. This report cautions about monitoring 13 chemicals, what about the 29,987 other ones? Also, applying the biosolids in the summer when it rains less is bad logic, it will rain eventually, the chemicals don’t go away, they will be there to leach into the water when it rains. Best way to avoid contamination water and land is NOT to apply the sludge at all.

Applying sludge to land is not the most pragmatic approach to managing it; the most pragmatic approach is to gasify this toxic sludge. Nutrients from the sludge generated in some far away cities can’t be returned to land by applying sludge, because it contains more toxins than nutrients. Any nutrients are contaminated with toxins. New Organic Matter recycling regulations (OMRR) regulations for 2016 should NOT include sludge/biosolids. The dangers of sludge on land can’t be reduced by source control. Perhaps in 100 years we will reduce some dangerous chemicals that go into sewage, but today in 2016 it is not possible. 

Water soluble contaminants are NOT always reduced in all sewage treatment plants, only in tertiary with Advanced Oxidation (AO) of the effluent, so the sludge will still contain huge amounts of water soluble as well as water insoluble contaminants. Composting of the sludge does NOT significantly reduce the dangers of those 30,000 different chemicals in sludge. 

The whole review does NOT even mention Superbugs that breed in sewage treatment plants, and composting will certainly NOT diminish their dangers. The antibiotic resistance in Superbugs is spread from one bacterium to another via small circles of DNA called plasmids and they will NOT be destroyed by composting; plasmids can survive being shot into space and reentry back to earth, so they will certainly survive a bit of heating while composting sludge. 



The way to reduce risks from sludge and get energy from them is to not put them on land, but gasify them and harvest the energy from them in a form of a syngas which can be used to generate electricity. 

The greatest threat posed by application of sewer sludge (or biosolids as they like to call it to make it look better) is contamination of both land and water with approximately 30,000 chemicals of unknown nature and toxicity. Nobody has the ability to measure and determine the toxicity (as well as degradation) of so many chemicals, most of them being synthetic ones that nature has no way to degrade or remove them, and even minor quantities can have disastrous effects on the land and water.  These chemicals can get washed away into streams, lakes and the ocean as well. The safety threat posed by these chemicals, metals and Superbugs has NOT been addressed by this review; the focus of the review is to justify this reckless practice, so that it can continue with government approval. It defies logic to produce a document, under the guise of scientific review, that justifies a dangerous practice where all of these dangers can be avoided by simply not applying the sludge/biosolids on land. We can use much less dangerous fertilizers on land and use the sludge instead to generate electricity and charcoal in a gasifier. 

Thomas Maler, Ph.D. (chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology)





Finally, I would like to include here some passages from a very recent hearing in the USA on the risks of land-applied “biosolids”

Prof. Caroline Snyder speaks at the House Democratic Policy Committee
Re: Public Hearing on sewage sludge    Date: August 29, 2016


My name is Caroline Snyder. I am emeritus professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I designed, administered, and taught interdisciplinary environmental science courses and chaired the Department of Science, Technology, and Society.

Land-applied municipal sewage sludge (biosolids) is a highly complex and unpredictable mixture of biological and chemical pollutants. Most of the man-made chemical compounds in commerce today - with 1000 new ones added annually - end up in sewage, and many of those, concentrate in the resulting biosolids . They include carcinogens, mutagens, neurotoxins, endocrine disrupters, solvents, pharmaceuticals, radioactive waste, leachates from landfills and superfund sites, as well as disease causing and antibiotic resistant pathogens. Upgrading and building improved treatment plants that will remove more pollutants from sewage, will cause sludge to become even more contaminated. Biosolids generated in our large industrialized urban centers - and 84% of land-applied sludge originates in those centers - is very likely the most pollutant- rich waste mixture of the 21st century.

The number of individuals and organizations that oppose land application is growing. There isn’t a community in the country that welcomes the arrival of sludge trucks. Many farmers are no longer taken in by the brochures and videos that promise instant savings and high yields from this free mislabeled "natural organic" fertilizer. Over a hundred environmental organizations - many supporting sustainable farming practices - oppose growing food and forage on biosolids-treated land. Among them are the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Rodale Institute, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Western Growers, the National Farmers Union, the Food Rights Network, and the Organic Consumers Association. All of these organizations depend on impartial scientific information to form their policy positions.






A few observations on the testing done on “biosolids” in the Nicola Valley.



As we had predicted, the contaminants that are really of concern were not even look at in the “Sampling Project” - superbugs, prions, nanomaterials, microplastics, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, (PBDEs) Flame retardants (PBDEs) etc. One does not have to wonder why – again, it would not support their pre-determined outcomes. They simply didn’t want to look for toxins they didn’t want to find. This point is key to understanding why this government decided to relegate the First Nations participation in this study to the status of “observers” – the last thing they wanted was to have John Werring of the Suzuki Foundation, chosen by the Chiefs to help with the testing process, to have free reign on sampling – and very likely reproduce the dramatically toxic results he got back from the initial tests the previous year.  The Chiefs would not be mere observers, but wanted input – wanted objective, arm’s length scientists at the table. Alas, the government could not allow that! The Chiefs had no option but to leave this biased project.



A small sample of the peer-reviewed studies overlooked by the so-called Literature review



1.      “Meta-analysis of biosolid effects on persistence of triclosan and
triclocarban in soil”  2015
Qiuguo Fu, Edmond Sanganyado , Qingfu Ye, Jay Gan

Highlights:
"Biosolid amendment greatly enhances persistence of triclosan and triclocarban, likely due to enhanced sorption or decreased chemical bioavailability. This finding highlights the importance to consider the effect of biosolids when evaluating the environmental risks of these and other biosolid-borne PPCPs."

2.      “Metal stress and decreased tree growth in response to biosolids application
in greenhouse seedlings and in situ Douglas-fir stands”  2011
Erica T. Cline, Quyen T.N. Nguyen, Lucy Rollins, James E. Gawel

Highlights:
"Phytochelatins e bioindicators of intracellular metal stress e were elevated in foliage of biosolids-amended stands, and significantly higher in roots of seedlings grown with fresh biosolids. These results demonstrate that biosolids amendments have short- and long-term negative effects that may counteract the expected tree growth benefits."

3.      “Occurrence, sources, and fate of pharmaceuticals in aquatic
environment and soil” 2013
W.C. Li

Highlights:
"Those pharmaceuticals which cannot be degraded and attenuated by natural and
human process will accumulate in the environment and lead to potential effects on the organism or even human."

4.      “Influence of organic amendment on fate of acetaminophen
and sulfamethoxazole in soil”  2015
Juying Li , Qingfu Ye, Jay Gan

Highlights:
"Land application of biosolids or compost constitutes an important route of soil contamination by emerging contaminants such as acetaminophen and sulfamethoxazole. Addition of biosolids or compost appreciably accelerated the formation of bound residue, likely due to the fact that the organic material provided additional sites for binding interactions or introduced exogenous microorganisms facilitating chemical transformations. This effect of biosolids or compost should be considered in risk assessment of these and other emerging contaminants."


5.      “Soil contamination by organic micropollutants”

2015,  Vodyanitskii.

Highlights:
"The input of organic micro and nano-pollutants into the environment has increased in recent years. Emerging pollutants are defined as new chemicals without regulatory status and which impact on environment and human health are poorly understood. The list of emerging compound classes consists of pharmaceuticals, steroid and hormones, surfactants, flame retardants, industrial additives and agents, gasoline additives. There are two main potential routes of environmental exposure associated with these compounds: the land application of municipal biosolids (typically to agricultural fields) and wastewater use in irrigated agriculture. These pollutants contaminate groundwater, soil and are transferred to plants. Drugs have especially strong influence on soil biota (bacteria, earthworms and others). In contaminated soil microorganism reaction to these compounds is determined not only by the composition and amount of emerging pollutants but geochemical and environmental factors."


6. “Nanomaterials in Biosolids Inhibit Nodulation, Shift Microbial Community Composition, and Result in Increased Metal Uptake Relative to Bulk/Dissolved Metals”  2015                                                                                                                                      Jonathan D. Judy, David H. McNear, Jr. Chun Chen,Ricky W. Lewis,Olga V. Tsyusko
Paul M. Bertsch, William Rao, John Stegemeier, Gregory V. Lowry, Steve P. McGrath,
Mark Durenkamp, and Jason M. Unrine

Highlights:
"Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are entering waste streams in increasing quantities as a result of their use in an increasing variety of consumer products employing nanotechnology.1 The majority of these ENMs have been shown to partition to the sludge within wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), and there is a risk of environmental harm in agroecosystems where biosolids are land-applied as fertilizer, which has yet to be fully evaluated. While regulations exist that limit the land application of biosolids that contain elevated concentrations of certain metals, these regulations do not specifically consider the incorporation of metal-containing nanomaterials."

"While the metal concentrations used in this study are high relative to near-term predicted soil ENM concentrations, we have clearly demonstrated that there is a distinct plant and microorganism response as a result of exposure to biosolids containing ENMs compared to biosolids containing bulk/dissolved metal of the same composition. This result suggests that soil accumulation of ENMs could potentially affect critical ecosystem services, agricultural productivity, and ultimately human well-being."


7.“Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Legume Medicago truncatula to Aged Biosolids Containing a Mixture of Nanomaterials (TiO2, Ag, and ZnO) from a Pilot Wastewater Treatment Plant”   2015                                                                                                                                             Chun Chen, Jason M. Unrine, Jonathan D. Judy, Ricky W. Lewis, Jing Guo, David H. McNear, Jr.and Olga V. Tsyusko

Highlights:
"The field of nanotechnology is developing rapidly, and engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are being incorporated into an increasing number of industrial and consumer products. The ENMs within these products are being released into the environment, which raises concerns about their possible impacts on human and ecosystem health."

"In summary, this study provides the first comprehensive insight into the toxicogenomic responses of M. truncatula grown in soils amended with aged biosolids containing a mixture of ENMs (Ag, TiO2, and ZnO). Considering the results from the companion study,18 the gene expression patterns are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibition of nodulation by ENM exposure was a result of plant toxicity rather than microbial toxicity, particularly because population densities of S. meliloti were similar in the bulk/dissolved and ENM treatments. We identified multiple genes involved in nodulation and inorganic nitrogen metabolism that were down regulated. In addition, genes involved in oxidative stress response were up-regulated. The companion study showed that Zn concentrations and uptake were higher in shoots from the ENM treatment than in the bulk/dissolved treatment while Ti and Ag concentrations were not significantly different.18 The present study showed that several genes involved in metal binding and Zn homeostasis were up-regulated. Taken together, these findings suggest that inhibition of growth and nodulation in M. truncatula exposed to ENM treatment is likely the result of enhanced bioavailability of Zn ions in the biosolids-amended soil containing aged ENMs resulting in phytotoxicity."


8. “Dissipation of contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids applied to nonirrigated farmland in eastern Colorado.” 2014                                                                                                                    Tracy J.B. Yager, Edward T. Furlong, Dana W. Kolpin, Chad A. Kinney, Steven D. Zaugg, and Mark R. Burkhardt

Highlights:
"This study indicates that some CECs are sufficiently persistent and mobile to be vertically transported into the soil column following biosolids applications to the land surface, even in semiarid regions"

"Eggen et al. (2011) reported uptake of pharmaceuticals by plants (carrots, wheat and barley cereals, meadow fescue, turnip rape seed) and negative effects on growth and development of carrots; however, the wheat samples from the Colorado study were not analyzed for pharmaceutical CECs. Holling et al. (2012) reported pharmaceutical and triclosan uptake by cabbage roots and aerials."

"Triclosan, a synthetic antimicrobial compound, was persistent in biosolids through the 180 days of sampling (Figure 3). Large concentrations in the first (top) soil interval dissipated little over time."

"Concentrations of 4-nonylphenol (sum of all isomers), a detergent or metabolite, were substantial in the Colorado biosolids (approximately 200 ppm) and persisted through at least 180 days post-application"

"the persistence of this CEC in biosolids and soil indicates the potential for long-term environmental effects."

"A plasticizer and flame retardant, TBEP, was detected in biosolids at relatively small concentrations compared to other CECs but was consistently detected in biosolids through 180 days post-application"

"The results of this study indicate that CECs in biosolids persisted in a real field-application environment. Between 180 and 468 days post-application, select CECs migrated deeper into the soil profile or were taken up by plant roots."

"This study demonstrates that agronomic applications of biosolids result in detectable concentrations of CECs in soil, and that CECs can persist in surficial biosolids and in soil-biosolid mixtures at detectable concentrations on time scales exceeding one year, particularly under the semiarid conditions present at this study site."



9. “Bioavailability of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in biosolids-amended soils to earthworms (Eisenia fetida)” 2014                                                         Bei Wena, Hongna Zhang , Longfei Li , Xiaoyu Hu , Yu Liu , Xiao-quan Shan , Shuzhen Zhang

Highlights:
"Accumulation of organic contaminants implies a risk to not only earthworm populations but also many vertebrate species feeding on earthworms. So far information about the accumulation of PFASs by earthworms from soil is quite limited."

"land application of biosolids not only increases the OM contents, but also results in the accumulation of PFASs in soils."

"Earthworms may take up contaminants from soil and porewater, both through their skin (dermal) and by ingestion (oral). It is assumed that only contaminants that can be released from
soil/sediment are available to biological receptors.....The results verified that the soil PFOS and PFOA concentrations and soil OM content ([OM]) are two key factors controlling the bioavailability of PFOS and PFOA in soils."

"These suggested that soil concentration and OM content dominated the bioavailability of PFASs in soils. Soil pH and clay content appeared relatively unimportant for PFOS and PFOA bioavailability....The results of this study demonstrated that contamination of PFOS and PFOA in soils as a result of biosolids land application led to accumulation of PFOS and PFOA in earthworms with higher concentration of PFOS than that of PFOA."

“Identification of Viral Pathogen Diversity in Sewage Sludge by Metagenome Analysis”  2013 Kyle Bibby and Jordan Peccia

Highlights:
"The large diversity of viruses that exist in human populations are potentially excreted into
sewage collection systems and concentrated in sewage sludge. "

"Two important, novel contributions can be drawn from this work’s results. The first is the broad diversity of human viruses revealed in the sludge samples. In every sample surveyed, the degree of viral pathogen diversity is greater than had been previously demonstrated in any environmental or wastewater sample. The realistic implications of this diversity include the need to consider a broader selection of viruses in environmental fate and transport studies, and importance of considering multiple human exposure routes to sewage sludge and wastewater. For the second major contribution, this work demonstrates the utility of metagenomic approaches for viral pathogen identification."

"The results of this study serve to expand our view on the type, occurrence and abundance of viral pathogens in raw sewage sludge and class B biosolids. These results strongly suggest that current regulations for pathogens in sewage sludge that focus on fecal coliform indicators or the presence of Enterovirus, do not capture the full degree of pathogen diversity to which the public may be exposed during biosolids land application. Emerging viruses including Parechovirus, Klassevirus, Bocavirus, and Coronavirus HKU1, were abundantly identified, highlighting previously undemonstrated pathogen diversity in sewage sludge."



10. "We Should Expect More out of Our Sewage Sludge" 2015
Jordan Peccia and Paul Westerhoff



Highlights:
" Sludge management practice must shift from treatment of a liability toward recovery of the embedded energy and chemical assets, while continuing to protect the environment and human health. This shift will require new research, treatment technologies and infrastructure and must be guided by the application of green engineering principles to ensure economic, social, and environmental sustainability. "

cia and Paul Westerhoffcia and Paul Westerhoff



11. "Heavy Metal Accumulation in Small Mammals following Sewage Sludge Application to Forests" 1989                                                                                                                                                             Linda J. Hegstrom and Stephen D. West



Highlights:

“Small mammals have been shown to accumulate heavy metals after sewage sludge was applied to forest lands. Shrews, shrew-moles, and deer mice absorbed metals from sludge”




12. "Uptake of Polychlorobiphenyls Present in Trace Amounts from Dried Municipal Sewage Sludge Through an Old Field Ecosystem" 1981                                                                                             Thomas S. Davis et.al.



Highlights:

“Insects in the soil absorb toxins, which then accumulate in birds.”



















Other Government Reviews not examined by the so-called Literature Review



“Sewage Sludge Management in Germany” – in-depth German government study 104 pages. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/…/sewage_sludge_management_i…  (2013)

Highlights:
"More than 30,000 tons of pharmaceutical drugs are used in Germany annually. After being used for therapeutic purposes or being disposed of improperly (in toilets), residues of these drugs end up in municipal sewage systems. Depending on the sewage treatment methods used, a greater or lesser portion of the pharmaceutical drug residues removed from sewage are deposited in sewage sludge. According to a German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen, SRU) report on pharmaceutical drugs in the environment, although only a handful of pharmaceutical drugs accumulate in sewage sludge, it would be advisable to gradually phase out the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer so as to avoid diffuse loads of potentially harmful substances in soil [SRU]."
"Expert reports issued by the German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) concerning pharmaceutical drugs in the environment indicate that the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment resulting from resistant bacteria inputs poses a greater public health hazard than antibiotic inputs per se [SRU].”
"Sewage sludge fertilizer is a pollution sink for harmful sewage components from households, businesses and diffuse sources, concerning whose environmental relevance too little is known. Notwithstanding tighter controls and stricter limit values for certain sewage sludge pollutants, uncontrolled pollutants such as hydrocarbons inevitably find their way into the soil. Incorporation of certain pollutants into the food chain cannot always be avoided, despite the fact that, for example, plants normally do not absorb organic pollutants. Nonetheless, new breakdown products of pharmaceutical drugs are discovered in sewage sludge all the time, and they are incorporated into sewage sludge via human excretion carried by the wastewater that is treated by sewage treatment plants."



The official notice from Switzerland stopping the use of Sewer Sludge on farmland - (note that they cite the Precautionary Principle)



"Although sludge contains plant nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen it also comprises a whole range of harmful substances and pathogenic organisms produced by industry and private households. For this reason, most farmers already avoid using sludge as a fertiliser since they are aware of the risk of irreversible damage to the soil, the danger to public health and possible negative effects on the quality of the food they produce. For this reason the Federal Council plans to ban the use of sludge as a fertiliser, although this will mean breaking a nutrient cycle which is in itself useful. Prevention – a key principle of the law on health and the environment – requires, however, that any consequences for the environment which could be damaging or negative must be limited as early as possible, even there is no conclusive scientific evidence for such damage being caused."













Other studies questioning the safety of “biosolids” released after the Literature Review



1.      “Pathogenic Escherichia coli and enteric viruses in biosolids and related top soil improvers in Italy.” 2016                                                                                                                                               Tozzoli R, et al.



Highlights:
"Four samples were positive for the presence of nucleic acids from human norovirus, two of them being also positive for human adenovirus. Real Time PCR screening gave positive results for many of the virulence genes characteristic of diarrheagenic E. coli in 21 samples. These included the Verocytotoxin-coding genes, in some cases associated with intimin-coding gene, and markers of enteroaggregative, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."



2.      “Long-term field application of sewage sludge increases the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes in soil.” 2016                                                                                                                                                               Qinglin Chena, Xinli Ana, Hu Lia, Jianqiang Sua, Yibing Mab, Yong-Guan Zhu

Highlights:
“Compared to the control soil (which contained around 40 antibiotic resistance genes), and to the soil fertilised only with chemical fertiliser (which contained a similar number), treatment with chicken manure (10 tonnes per hectare — t/ha) and sewage sludge (36 t/ha) more than doubled the number of antibiotic resistance genes (to around 100)…They also found that the effects increased with the amount of treatment that was applied… The highest number of antibiotic resistance genes were detected following sewage sludge treatment (36 t/ha).”



3.      “Are agricultural soils dumps for microplastics of urban origin?” 2016                                          Luca Nizzetto, Martyn Futter, and Sindre Langaas

Highlights:
"Based on new microplastics emission estimates in industrialized countries, we suggest that widespread application of sewage sludge from municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to farmlands is likely to represent a major input of microplastics to agricultural soils, with unknown consequences for sustainability and food security."



4.      “Microplastics – Also in Our Food?” 2015                                                                                 Christophe Goldbeck, Peter Fürst, Hans-Ulrich Humpf, Darena Schymanski,

 Highlights:
"microplastics has gained attention as an environmental problem. Microplastics has been detected in the ocean, in rivers, in effluents from sewage treatment plants and sewage sludge. It is spread as fine dust in the air, such as tire wear, as sewage sludge fertilizer and landfill leachate on the ground, and also with rainwater."

"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed

5.      The fetal ovary exhibits temporal sensitivity to a ‘real-life’ mixture of environmental chemicals” 2016                                                                                                                                  Richard G. Lea, Maria R. Amezaga, Benoit Loup, Béatrice Mandon-Pépin, Agnes Stefansdottir, Panagiotis Filis, Carol Kyle, Zulin Zhang, Ceri Allen, Laura Purdie, Luc Jouneau, Corinne Cotinot, Stewart M. Rhind, Kevin D. Sinclair, Paul A. Fowler. ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )

Highlights:
"The study highlights potential risks associated with the common practice of grazing livestock on pastures on which human sewage sludge-derived fertilizer has been used.”

"More worryingly, since low-level chemical exposure poses a threat to human reproductive development, the consumption of products from animals grazing such pastures may be of considerable environmental concern."

"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."

ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed." ive, enterotoxigenic, and enteroinvasive E. coli.
CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence that enteric viruses and pathogenic E. coli may be released into the environment through the use of sludges-derived TSI (what in Europe they call sewer sludge and manures - Top Soil Improvers )"Our results highlight that the TSI-related environmental risk for the food chain should be more deeply assessed."