Stop Sewer Sludge From Ending Up in Your Food


Story at-a-glance

  • Sewer sludge spread over agricultural land is being absorbed by plant material or is running off into nearby streams and waterways, polluting the food supply; tainted milk from one dairy farm in Maine highlights the problem of sludge used to fertilize hay eaten by the cows
  • The term “sludge magic” was coined by a career chemist at the EPA to describe how pollutants commonly found in sewer sludge “magically” stayed in the sludge and didn’t get absorbed by plant material or runoff into waterways. Testing reveals a different story
  • Toxins found in biosolids interfere with plant hormones, reduce chlorophyll levels and stunt root growth; research acknowledges contamination with toxic heavy metals may limit use
  • Despite a revealing report by the Office of Inspector General demonstrating the EPA’s promotion of sewer sludge does not protect consumer health, the EPA continues to encourage its use and claims the agency is unable to do requested risk assessments on the material

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