Sewage Sludge

The decision to burn CMU’s biosolids as fuel for the proposed ReVenture waste incinerator generates many questions and concerns, especially given the greater Mecklenburg region’s Nonattainment Status for air quality.

Central Piedmont Sierra Club Supports EPA Call for Greater Restrictions on Sewage Sludge Incinerators

EPA Sewage Sludge Incinerators: Proposed Air Toxics Emissions Controls: Fact Sheet (09-30-10)

EPA recognizes dangers of burning sewage sludge, looks to tighten emissions for 2015. Fact Sheet identifies risks to public health and safety and benefits of tighter controls.

Hazardous Air Pollutants (Title I, Section 112) Fact Sheets

EPA Sewage Sludge Incinerators: Proposed Air Toxics Emissions Controls: Proposed Rule (09-30-10)

Proposed new rules.

Hazardous Air Pollutants (Title I, Section 112) Proposed and Final Preambles and Rules

NCDENR Division of Air Quality regarding North Carolina Proposed Nonattainment Ozone Boundaries

In a letter to NCDENR Division of Air Quality regarding North Carolina Proposed Nonattainment Ozone Boundaries, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) raises many issues related to the need for special concern, monitoring and enforcement to improve our air quality.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Sewage Sludge

Over 60,000 toxic substances and chemical compounds can be found in sewage sludge.

North Carolina Air Quality rules for sewage sludge and sludge incinerators

Report deals with Particulate Matter, Visible Emissions, Sulfur Dioxide, Odorous Emissions, Hydrogen Chloride, Mercury Emissions, Beryllium Emissions, Lead Emissions, Other Metal Emissions and Toxic Emissions from burning sewage sludge.


Are BIOSOLIDS safe for our farmlands and FOOD?

The Federal Clean Water Act defines sewage sludge as a “pollutant” [33USC 1462]. Additional information on this issue.

Environmental Justice Sewage Sludge Homepage

General Knowledge

Is Your Orange Juice grown in Toxic Sludge? 

About 60% of New York City’s sewage sludge is pelletized at the Synagro’s New York Organic Fertilizer Company (NYOFCO) facility in the Bronx, which is an environmental justice issue affecting a low-income community of color. Much of this pelletized sludge is shipped down to be dumped as fertilizer on the citrus groves in Florida.

The Sludge Hits the Fan (chapter from the Toxic Sludge is Good For You book)

Center for Food Safety’s Sludge page

Cornell Waste Management Institute Sewage Sludge Resources (includes resources on dioxin in sludge, local ordinances, health damages and more)

  • The Case For Caution (1999 paper published in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution as “Land Application of Sewage Sludge: An Appraisal of the US Regulations”)

Health Survey of Residents Living Near Farm Fields Permitted to Receive Biosolids (Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, Vol. 62, No. 1, 2007)

The Dirty Work of Promoting “Recycling” of America’s Sewage Sludge (International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 2005)

The Real Dirt on Sewage Sludge — Natural Life article by Wendy Priesnitz (Canadian)

Toxic Sludge In Our Communities Communities: Threatening Public Health And Our Farmlands (Oct 2001 report by Toxics Action Center)

On the Ground: The Spreading of Toxic Sludge in Vermont (June 1999 report by VPIRG)

Land Application of Toxic Sludge Threatens Communities & Drinking Water

ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems:

The Sludging of America – 1996 E Magazine article By Tom Bisogno

More than a bad smell? – sewage sludge could affect every American

Denver sludge is stinky biz – EPA policy raises troubling questions

EPA defends sludge rules – Selling sludge is a sticky operation

Loudoun Neighbors Against Toxic Sludge (NATS) (Loudoun County, Virginia)

Ben Oostdam’s Sludge Page

RACHEL’s Environment & Health Weekly Articles on Sludge:

People eating food grown on soil treated with sewage sludge may be in danger. ATSDR says, “Exposure to [dioxin] from land application of municipal sewage sludge or paper mill sludge also can occur through the dietary pathway if people consume food grown or animals grazed on sludge-amended lands.”[4,pg.497] And: “Most recently, MacLachlan… reported that the prolonged use of sewage sludge as a soil amendment on English farms under some conditions can lead to an increase in the concentrations of [dioxins] in both the soil and in cow’s milk.”[4,pg.497]

National Sludge Alliance factsheets

  • #100 – EPA Overcomes Federal Prohibition Against Open Dumps
  • #101 – The Bell Tolls for EPA
  • #102 – The Law vs. EPA Science
  • #103 – SLUDGE MAGIC – From New York City to Sierra Blanca, Texas
  • #104 – EPA’s Reckless Endangerment of Public Health
  • #105 – EPA’s Sludge Options: Open Dumps or Landfill Disposal
  • #106 – The People vs. EPA and the Courts
  • #107 – The Sludge Gets Deeper
  • #108 – Public Health vs. Removal Credits
  • #109 – Food Safety Claims
  • #110 – Beneficial Use, Disease/Death: By Design or Ignorance?
  • #111 – Caution: EPA Scientist at Work
  • #112 – Deception-Deceit-Diversion
  • #113 – Is It Toxic Sludge or Cow Manure Poisoning Our Food Supply?
  • #114 – Toxic Sludge: Timeline to Disaster
  • #122 – Catch 22 — The Plight of the Farmer Who Accepts Sludge
  • #123 – The Terrible Truth
  • #127 – Sewage Sludge is Hazardous to Environment
  • #128 – Toxic/Hazardous Sludge Management is State/Local Responsibility
  • #129 – EPA Underplays Danger to Farmers and Public
  • #131 – Farms and Public Health Destroyed – For Removal Credits
  • #132 – Biosolids: 60s Science Brings Death In Disguise
  • #133 – A New God is Created – Regulation Authorize Lying to Public and Courts
  • #134 – Media Reports the New Plagues Are Here
  • #135 – Biosolids – Collateral Damage – Ocean to Farm and Lawn

Find out about some of the toxics in your sludge
Use the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory database to find out which industries dump into the sewage treatment plants that are providing the sludge being dumped on you. Keep in mind that this is the tip of the toxic iceberg, since most of the toxins dumped into sewer systems are not reported to this database. Make sure to switch “Type of Transfer” to “POTW” (Publicly Owned Treatment Works = Sewage Treatment Plant). Then put in the county and state and run the query. Go back and try it again if you need to narrow the search down to a specific facility (caution: facility names are often misspelled; you’ll find more if you put in fewer search criteria).

Dioxins in Cotton Cloth end up in Sewage Sludge

1994 General Accounting Office (GAO) Report: Radioactive Sludge: “Action Needed to Control Radioactive Contamination at Sewage Treatment Plants” (PDF version)

The Sludge Scam: Should Sewage Sludge Fertilize Your Vegetables?
Laura Orlando, Dollars and Sense, May/June 1997.

Faced with faulty science, EPA muzzles critics (USA Today)

Texas Water Commission Proposes Tough New Rules to Deal with West Texas Sludge Project

ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems:

Wastewater Treatment: Overview and Background (Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, January 20, 1999)

“Moreover, toxins discharged from industries and households to sewage treatment plants cause water quality impairments, operational upsets, and contamination of sewage sludge. EPA reported in 1997 that industrial and commercial firms lawfully discharged 240 million pounds of wastes with hazardous constituents to municipal treatment plants.”

Mega-Slums: the coming sanitary crisis

By the year 2000 there will be 23 cities in the world with populations in excess of 10 million people. Eighteen of these cities will be in the developing world.This report highlights the plight of the urban poor and the sanitary revolution that will be needed to head off the global sanitary crisis.

EDF Letter: Ocean Dumping of Sewage Sludge Is Ending in N.Y.-N.J. Region
EDF Letter: “Ocean Sludge Dumping No Answer to Waste Management Problems,”

Agricultural Usage

Effects of Sewage Sludge on the Cadmium and Zinc Content of Crops

A July 1997 Seattle Times investigation by Duff Wilson found that, across the nation, industrial wastes laden with heavy metals and other dangerous materials are being used in fertilizers and spread over farmland. The process, which is legal, saves dirty industries the high costs of disposing of hazardous wastes.

Other Seattle Times Articles:

Sludge Regulators and Handlers

Sludge Haulers:

Special thanks and recognition to the Environmental Justice Network for this content.


One Response to Sewage Sludge

  1. Pingback: * Sierra Club Addresses Health, Sewer Slude and Policy Issues | Incinerator Free Mecklenburg

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