National Sludge Alliance
Charlotte Hartman, National Coordinator
180 Boston Corners Road
Millerton, NY 12546
(518) 329-2120 (phone/fax)
NSA Public Fact Sheet 110
Beneficial Use - Disease/Death: by Design or Ignorance?
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA claims cow manure should be regulated as a
dangerous fertilizer, according to one EPA employee. He has used this threat twice against a
vocal California farmer opposed to the use of toxic sewage sludge as a fertilizer on food crop
production land. The first threat was in a note attached to a Water Environment Federation
(WEF) letter lobbying Congress to change a Farm Bill. The WEF letter blamed farmers and
the use of cow manure for the nations water pollution problems. The second threat was
contained in a personal letter to the farmer on an EPA letterhead. Enclosed in the letter was an
article on E. Coli outbreaks, which blamed cow manure for at least one 1991 outbreak of E.
coli in Massachusetts. (public Facts # 101, For whom the Bell Tolls)
- The EPA Administrator has information available which proves that if any of the organic or
inorganic or pathogen pollutants in beneficial use sludge enter your body either directly by
ingestion or inhalation or indirectly through the food chain, can or will, cause your death, or
cancer, or disease, or other serious health effects in you and/or your unborn children. (40 CFR
503.9(t), FR. 58, 32, p. 9389).
- President Clinton wants Congress to spend 43 million dollars to fight food contamination that
have affected millions of people, such as deadly disease outbreaks from hamburgers, apple
juice, orange juice and other foods.
- The disease organisms (found in beneficial use sewage sludge), which caused these health
effects, Samonella, E. coli, Cyclosporia, Hepatitis A and others, according to the National
Center for Disease Control, cause approximately 50 million cases of food poisoning and 9,000
deaths annually. (Isaacs 1996).
- Studies have documented Salmonella infection of cattle grazing on pastures fertilized with
toxic sewage sludge and a cycle of infection from humans to sludge to animals to humans.
(Taylor and Burrows. 1971, WHO. 1981, Dorn, 1985)
- Studies have also documented the acute toxicity of organic pollutants in sewage sludge (which
the EPA does not address in the beneficial use regulation) and that the pollutants in sludge
may not leave any indication in the body as to the actual cause of death. (Babish. 1981, 1985).
- Beneficial use, according to two EPA funded "scientific studies" is based on the fact that
"Suitable landfill sites are, however, being exhausted. Thus sludge is now being applied to
farmland by many municipalities." (Dorn, 1985). and "The limited capacity of sanitary
landfills is quickly exhausted, and communities are not providing for new landfills." (National
Research Council (NCR), 1996).
- Sludge disposed of in a sanitary landfill will not harm anyone, nor will it contaminate the food
or water supply. (Federal Register (FR.) 58, 32, p. 9375).
- Ocean dumping of New York City sewage sludge was stopped by Congress because it
destroyed the ocean environment where it was dumped. At the time, only 20% of New York
City sludge was acceptable as EPA approved fertilizer under the proposed sewage sludge
regulation. (Schultz, 1989).
- EPA now brags that 67% of New York City sludge is processed by the New York Organic
Fertilizer Company for use on citrus orchards in Florida, wheat farms in Colorado and cotton
and grain farms in Arizona. Twenty-seven percent of New York City sludge is used on Merco
Joint Venture's 128,000 acre cattle ranch in west Texas. (WEF/EPA. 1995. Biosolids Fact
- If sludge dumpers do not claim the right to use sewage sludge as a fertilizer for wild grass,
lawns, gardens or food crops, the sewage sludge must be disposed of in a safe highly regulated
landfill under Part 503. FR. 58, 32, p. 9330.
- Sewage sludge classified as a high quality fertilizer is too contaminated with toxic pollutants
to be disposed of in a part 503 landfill, primarily because of the Chromium content. FR. 58,
32, pp. 9362, 9396 - Parts 503.13 & 503.23.
- EPA has proposed a solution to the inconsistencies in its regulation. According to the EPA,
the solution is to simply remove Chromium from the regulation and no one will notice that it
only addresses 9 of the 126 priority toxic pollutants which can kill you or that its high quality
sewage sludge fertilizer can not be disposed of in a part 503 landfill. Biocycle, Dec. 1996.
- EPA did not address 116 of the 126 priority toxic pollutants in sludge that it knows will cause
death, cancer, and other acute illness, because Congress wanted it to regulate a greater number
of toxic substances. (FR. 58. 32, pp. 9327, 9389 - Public Facts # 100, # 101).
- EPA has acknowledged 25 groups of death and disease causing agents and 21 cancer causing
agents in sewage sludge. (FR. 54. 23, pp. 5829, 5777).
- "EPA concluded that adequate protection of public health and the environment did not require
the adoption of standards designed to protect human health or the environment under exposure
conditions that are unlikely and where effects were not significant or widespread." (FR. 58,
32, p. 9252).
- EPA estimated its beneficial use of sludge as a fertilizer was responsible for about 500 health
effects annually. (FR. 58. 32, p. 9374).
- EPA's Sludge Regulation claims to give itself, the states, cities and sludge dumpers immunity
from all damage and health claims caused by the use of sewage sludge and claims to void the
Congressional mandated environmental laws (even if a Superfund site is created) as long as
the sludge is called a fertilizer. (FR. 58, 32, p. 9262. - Public Facts # 101)
- Under the law, States and cities are required to comply with Federal environmental laws
which are very clear: sewage sludge from a wastewater treatment plant is always a solid waste
that must be disposed of in a legal landfill where it can harm no one. (Public Laws 98-616,
- Yet, the States no longer accept any responsibility for your protection. As an example, in a
letter to Kansas City, Missouri, the Department of Natural Resources attempted to wash its
hands of the problem, "These (wastewater treatment plant) inspections did not address
compliance with EPA sludge regulations under 40 CFR 503. These regulations are self-
implementing and directly enforceable without being included in your state operating permit."
(Dettman, June 23, 1994).
- The State of Washington Courts have found that the State has no responsibility to protect the
lives and health of individuals under the public duty doctrine or the law. (Zander Case, 1995).
- EPA is spending 1.2 million dollars to debunk the horror stories (death and diseases)
associated with sludge used as a fertilizer and promote the use of sewage sludge on
watersheds? (Walker, 1994).
- The question is, how long will Congress and the American public allow the unwarranted
deaths and disease to continue?
- Babish, J. G., D. J. Lisk, G. S. Stoewsand, and C. Wilkinson. 1981. "Organic toxicants and
pathogens in sewage sludge and their environmental effects." Spec. Rept. No. 42, N. Y. State
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ithaca, NY.
- Babish, J. G. 1985. "Health risks associated with the organic fraction of municipal sewage
sludges." Bulletin 851. Criteria and Recommendations for land application of Sludges in the
northeast. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.
- Dettman, Ellen J. 1994. Water Pollution Unit Chief, Missouri Department of Natural
Resources. Official transmittal letter to H.E. Snider, Director of Kansas City's Water and
Pollution Control Department.
- Dorn. C. R., Reddy. C. S., Lamphere. D. N., Gaeuman. J. V., and Lanese. R. (1985).
"Municipal Sewage Sludge Application on Ohio Farms: Health Effects." Environment
Research 38. 332-359.
- Isaacs, Florence. 1996. "Is your fruit safe to eat." Fitness, Oct. 1996, pp. 47-48.
- National Research Council. 1996. "Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop
Production." National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.
- Taylor. R. J., and Burrows, M. R. (1971). "The survival of Escherichia Coli and Samonella
dublin in slurry in pasture and the infectivity of S. dublin for grazing calves." Brit. Vet. J. 127,
- Taylor. R. J. (1973). "A further assessment of the potential for calves allowed to graze pasture
contaminated with Salmonella dublin in slurry." Brit. Vet. J. 129, 354-358.
- World Health Organization (1981). "The risk to Health of Microbes in Sewage Sludge
Applied to Land: Report on a WHO Working Group." Stevenage, 6-9 January 1981. EURO
Reports and Studies, 54. World Health Organization. Copenhagen. -LSI-