Case for Caution Revisited: Health and Environmental Impacts of Application of Sewage Sludges to Agricultural Land
Harrison, Ellen Z; McBride, Murray
Over the past 15 years since the 40CFRPart503 rules were promulgated, there have been many new scientific findings regarding the environmental and health implications of the application of sewage biosolids to agricultural soils. Many of these findings show increased risks, risks that were not assessed as part of the risk assessment that USEPA used as the basis for the standards promulgated in 1993. These new findings support the rational basis for U.S. EPA to revise the federal regulations and for states and municipalities to regulate the application of sewage biosolids in order to protect their citizens and the land-base. Agricultural soils are a unique and valuable resource. Protecting agricultural soils requires anticipating and avoiding potential harms since once contaminated with persistent pollutants, the damage will remain for the foreseeable future. Once contaminated, stopping the application of pollutants such as metals and many organic chemicals that are in sewage biosolids will not correct the problem. The contamination will remain for decades or centuries. It is thus critical to prevent this essentially permanent degradation.
Cornell Waste Management Institute
sewage biosolids; sludge; application to agricultural land; contaminants; heavy metals; health and environmental impacts