Several million dry tons of sewage sludge, also known as biosolids, are used as fertilizer on agricultural lands and given away or sold for use by homeowners and landscape contractors annually in the United States. Currently, there are no labeling requirements for food produced on land treated with sewage sludge. And it's difficult for gardeners to even know if they are using a sludge-based fertilizer product.
Today, IATP released our latest Smart Guide for consumers: Smart Guide on Sludge Use and Food Production, The guide reviews the various disease-causing microbes, synthetic chemicals and heavy metals that have been found in sewage sludge, and explains how these contaminants can persist in the soil and enter the food system through food crops and food animals.
"Given the high contaminant content of sludge, it makes no sense to allow the use of sludge on agricultural land or home gardens," says Kulick in our press release, "This practice poses an unnecessary health risk, particularly when there are safer alternatives available."
Two companion factsheets go with the smart guide.The first is a chart of some chemicals found in sewage sludge along with their potential health impacts and what the common use or source was. The second factsheet is a very short, and by no means complete, list of fertilizer products made from sludge that are available to consumers in one or more parts of the U.S.