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Another Reason to Grow Your Own!

August 6th, 2009

My friend Shaun mentioned that while out running one day he spotted a truck spraying something on a local field.
He assumed it was liquid manure at first, which is common to see farmers spraying on their fields. A closer look revealed something interesting.
That truck reads, “Brown Township Malvern Sewer District”. A couple days later he noticed a new sign had been placed kind of behind a tree, down on one corner of the field.
Sewer Sludge is defined as: an unpleasant material whose the quantities increase each year. According to the Center for Food Safety, this is what’s going on:

Every time you flush your toilet or clean a paintbrush in your sink, you may be unwittingly contributing fertilizer used to grow the food in your pantry. Beginning in the early 1990s, millions of tons of potentially-toxic sewage sludge have been applied to millions of acres of America’s farmland as food crop fertilizer. Selling sewage sludge to farmers for use on cropland has been a favored government program for disposing of the unwanted byproducts from municipal waste water treatment plants. But sewage sludge is anything but the benign fertilizer the Environmental Protection Agency says it is.

Sewage sludge includes anything that is flushed, poured, or dumped into our nation’s waste water system–a vast, toxic mix of wastes collected from countless sources, from homes to chemical industries to hospitals. The sludge being spread on our crop fields is a dangerous stew of heavy metals, industrial compounds, viruses, bacteria, drug residues, and radioactive material. In fact, hundreds of people have fallen ill after being exposed to sewage sludge fertilizer–suffering such symptoms as respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, rashes, reproductive complications, cysts, and tumors.

So I googled Class B sewer sludge to see what we were dealing with and I found this sickening bit of information:

Sludge is classified as either Class A or Class B, depending on the type of treatment it has received. Class A sludge has benefited from both pretreatment and treatment at the wastewater facility. The pathogens in Class A biosolids cannot exceed certain levels set by the EPA. Standards for Class B sludge are less stringent, and their use is therefore more regulated. A landowner who wishes to use Class B sludge as an alternative to conventional fertilizers must apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to register his site. Among other items, the application requires information on the type of land, the amount of buffer zones, and the type of soil. The applicant must also provide information from the wastewater treatment facility on the type of pollutants and pathogens in the sludge, and calculations of nutrient needs for the crops. The use of Class B sludge on land has been criticized by the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A landowner using Class A sludge does not have to register his land.

After searching a while for information I came across a few articles I though you might find interesting if you want to read more about the use of sewer sludge in agriculture.

* Here is a great article about sewer sludge.

* Another story about sewer sludge usage on hay that was fed to cows that resulted in their death, over at the Organic Consumers Association.

* Even the White House garden has been contaminated with sewer sludge.

* Bio-solids: by any other name, Sludge

* Sludge News: a website dedicated to information about and activism against the use of sewer sludge. Including a list of fertilizers sold at Hardware stores that contain sludge.

This is why I want to GROW MY OWN and keep as closed a system as possible in my gardens. I’ll put homegrown compost on my gardens thanks!

Did you know that sewer sludge was used in agriculture, particularly on the food we eat?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.