“This stuff will end up in the food and meat they eat, the milk they drink, this is a real issue.”
Sewage sludge is “the wet solid cake produced after human, residential and industrial wastes are combined in wastewater treatment plants”.
Industrial companies need viable places to dump their waste products, and just as the fertilizer industry has found a market for fluoride waste in drinking water, the waste water industry has created a fertilizer market using sewer sludge as a cheap crop input.
This has become a booming business ever since ocean and waterway dumping — widely used by municipal waste departments for decades — was banned in 1992.
In fact, the EPA has helped promote the use of human waste as safe and beneficial, alongside two lobbying groups — the U.S. Composting Council (USCC) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) — who have rebranded it as “biosolids” and pushed it as a cheap fertilizer.
USCC President Frank Franciosi, who joked that biosolids were ‘crack cocaine for plants’, admitted the sludge industry was lobbying Capitol Hill “so we can get our nose in the farm bill, so that we can get credits and grant money.”
In addition to human sewage and medical and industrial waste used for “biosolids,” the sludge waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) is widely used to fertilize vegetable crops. According to Cornucopia.org:
“The majority of all animal manure, as well as municipal sewage sludge (politely referred to as biosolids–human waste), in this country is spread on conventional crops.”
While the use of biosolid sludge is banned from USDA certified organic farms, it is increasingly used as an ‘organic’ (as in terms of material, not practices) fertilizer in the smaller-scale movement associated with healthy, homegrown gardens — despite the fact that this adds numerous toxins to the soil. Many have adopted this up-cycled humanure as a green solution that the EPA and several lobbyists say is ‘safe’ for unrestricted use on veggies, industrial farms and more. Natural News termed it “greenwashing” back in 2010.
Cities across the country are reselling biosludge manufactured from municipal waste to their residents as a beneficial compost comprised of “organic biosolids compost” materials. Reportedly, even the White House garden touted by Michelle Obama as an organic victory uses municipal sewer sludge to grow its produce.
The only problem is that the compost made by cities from what is flushed down the toilet may contain residual pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics, sex hormones and other endocrine disruptors, radiated derivatives from cancer treatments, pathogens, steroids and other excreted compounds that could enter the human body, crops or food chain/environment with total affects unknown. This issue is further complicated by pesticides and herbicides that accumulate in the body and then get excreted as well.
For more on what nasty surprises turn up in water treatment facilities, check out this story up on Reuters just today: “Body parts found in Los Angeles area water treatment plants“.
A 2009 EPA report found some 100 toxins in biosolid sludge, but concluded that it posed no risk to human health, barring further investigation; however, an earlier report from Cornell University actually found 60,000 toxic substances and chemicals in sewer sludge.
There have been complaints of human illnesses as result of exposure to human waste fertilizers. The NY Times reported on hearings held in North Carolina after widespread reports of staph infections, sick sewage workers, cattle deaths due to nitrate poisoning, fish die offs and river contamination from runoff and well water tainting. At least one official resigned due to conflicts of interest with the sludge industry.
Numerous reports of serious and minor health affects cropped up in Austin, Texas after heavy rains transformed the ACL music festival into a sludgy nightmare, with thousands of people trudging through the park grassland which had been recently fertilized and re-sodded with “biosolids.” Hundreds of festival goers touched and even rolled around in what they later learned was largely human waste products. Area health officials denied a connection when numerous illnesses were reported, but other claimed it was a cover-up.
Rural landowners in Ontario complained that a neighboring farm using biosolids not only subjected them to noxious odors and sickened their livestock and family, but prevented them from being able to resale their home and acreage, as few wanted to buy property listed adjacent to sewer sludge practices.
In an NBC report out of Philadelphia, local residents in Lehigh County complained about the ‘shitty’ practice, which they claim has contaminated their drinking water. “We’ve got the chemicals going into the ground, got human feces going into ground none of its normal, none of its natural,” area local Bill Schaffhouser told NBC.
“There’s a huge difference between using fertilizer and using human feces that’s been treated with different chemicals. This stuff will end up in the food and meat they eat, the milk they drink… this is a real issue,” Schaffhouser said.
While some argue that this waste has to go somewhere, and that human “nightsoil” manure uses date back millennia, others point to the deceptive PR tactics used to hide the fact that toxic human and industrial waste is being dumped on farms and promoted for use in home gardens and other composting applications.