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Early in the 1990s, close to a million acres of America’s farmland have been covered with apparently toxic sewage sludge as food crop fertilizer, about a million tons were used. And this has been favored by the government as a program for disposing byproducts gathers from municipal waste water treatment plants.
Just what are sewage sludge? Well, they’re toxic wastes taken from a lot of sources like homes, hospitals, chemical manufacturers, other businesses, and storm water drain which are flushed or dumped into wastewater systems across the nation. And the kind of waste includes human fecal, pathogens, heavy metals, and several hundreds of contaminants. These wastes undergo a process in the wastewater treatment plants where it tries to remove as much contaminants as it can from the water. The water is later discharged and the solids that remain are sludge or “biosolids”. Except for some handful of contaminants, most has not undergone tests for its effect to human health and the environment.
Despite its obscurity, sewage sludge continues to be used as fertilizers, some are even mixed with other materials and bagged as “biosolid compost” for use in farm and garden landscaping. But why not use them, they are given free anyway, right?… Big mistake! The use of sewage sludge is under-publicized and with so much hidden threat. Before the 1980, these “biosolids” were dumped in the ocean, and after they realized that it was an environmental and human health disaster, some PR experts came up with a brilliant idea… apply them to farmlands under the guise of “biofertilizer”… and give them out legally for free! Wow!… I want some for my farm!
Just how perilous is sewage sludge as fertilizers? To give you an idea, past analysis conducted on sewage sludge resulted in the discovery of a large number of dioxins and synthetic compounds like toluene and phthalates. There was also a good number of heavy metals in high concentrations and various pesticides.
When applied to the soil, some of these chemicals will bind to the soil, and others will leach into the groundwater. Some chemicals are really not filtered out in the process, like heavy metals, flame retardants, and other carcinogens which accumulates in the soil. And a good question to ask is, have these “biosolids” actually been treated at all?
While hundreds of individuals have fallen ill due to exposure sewer sludge fertilizers, the application to farmlands and gardens continues. As consumers, the only way we can be sure that what we are getting are not grown in sewage sludge is to buy organic foods from trusted suppliers at farmers markets. Your local grocery stores are definitely not the ideal place to buy safe, fresh food.
Support family farm. Go organic.