Crap in my Manure?

evonnestoryteller(5-6)February 6, 2010

I wonder if what I have been buying from the stores has things like heavy metals in it? Looks like I will have to buy the bags listed organic only at a greater price to know for sure?

[size=4]Dangers to food supply

Crapshoot: The Gamble with Our Wastes

[quote]A hazardous mix of solid and liquid waste is flushed into the sewer every day. With literally billions of gallons of water passing through municipal sewer systems - composed of unknown quantities of chemicals, solvents, heavy metals, human waste, and food - the question becomes: where does it all go? And what effect does that have on us?[/quote]

[quote]Unfortunately, many American farmers and gardeners are unknowingly using sludge-derived "compost." One reason for this is that sludged compost is being given away free in many cities throughout the United States, and as a result, farms and homes across the country have been unknowingly spreading hazardous chemicals and heavy metals on their fields, lawns and gardens. The problem has affected even our most prestigious residence--the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama herself has taken commendable steps to alleviate contamination from sludge-based fertilizer in her garden, a result of sludge used on the White House lawn more than a decade ago.

Courts have also weighed in on the dangers of sludge and the failure of the EPA to protect our food and farms. A federal court in Georgia recently ruled that land application of sewage sludge was the cause of contamination of several farms and the cause of death of the plaintiff farm's prizewinning cattle. The court also found that rat poison in sludge came out in milk distributed via commerce. It also turns out that in defending its sludge program in this case, the EPA used fraudulent data and tried to hide what they were doing. As the court noted: "The administrative record contains evidence that senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to quash scientific dissent, and any questioning of the EPA's biosolids program."

Despite this case and mounting evidence of the dangers in biosolids, sludge giveaway programs continue unabated and are often accellerated. Even the "green "city of he San Francisco has a sludged compost distribution program run by their Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). The SFPUC does outreach to organic gardeners and homeowners alike urging them to use the material as fertilizer on vegetable gardens, lawns, farmland, flowerbeds, and - in particular - on schoolyards and playgrounds.

Misleadingly, the City calls this a compost giveaway when it is really a sludge giveaway. The City has even called this sludge "organic" compost. . The SFPUC should know that, as I've already mentioned, sewage sludge is a "prohibited method" under the national organic regulations so it is not only misleading but potentially illegal for the city to label sludge-derived compost as "organic."

There is very good reason to prohibit growing organic food in sewage sludge. While the natural elements in compost break down in soil, sewage sludge contains heavy metals and myriad chemical pollutants that remain in the soil for years. Neither treatment nor composting removes the material's toxins and heavy metals which persist in the soil and which may contaminate the foods grown in it. For these reasons, using sewage-sludge-based fertilizer on playgrounds and school gardens is particularly egregious when you consider the potential for children's exposure to these highly toxic substances.

San Francisco's should know better. Its sludge tested in 2008 included poisons like p-Isopropyltoluene, an industrial chemical used to manufacture consumer goods; 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, a disinfectant and pesticide; tolulene, an aromatic hydrocarbon used as an industrial solvent; 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, a product of petroleum refinery distillation; and phenol, also known as carbolic acid, used in the manufacture of drugs, antiseptics, and the manufacture of synthetic fibers. What's worse, the sludge-derived "compost" they are pushing comes from numerous other counties in California whose sludge had not been tested at all. This grossly violates the precautionary principle that San Francisco has officially adopted as its rule of thumb for its government programs.


Read the entire article at the link.

[quote]Is recycling coal fly ash at farms environmentally safe?

Tons of coal fly ash--the same substance that caused a massive emergency in Tennessee--are recycled in soil, raising questions about buildup of arsenic and other toxic substances in food crops.

By Matthew Cimitile

Environmental Health News

February 6, 2009

Crops across the country are grown in soil amended with coal fly ash--the same substance that caused a massive environmental emergency in December when it gushed from a holding pond at a Tennessee power plant.

Tons of fly ash are routinely added to soil to nourish vegetables, peanuts and other crops, primarily in the Midwest and Southeast. But now the spill has raised questions about whether this longstanding agricultural practice is environmentally sound.

Fly ash is a fine powder recovered from gases created by the burning of coal. It is the largest component of coal combustion waste, totaling around 70 million tons annually in the United States.

Adding moderate amounts increases crop yields and stabilizes soils while reducing the need to throw huge quantities in landfills or holding ponds, said Yuncong Li, University of Florida professor of soil and water sciences.

However, fly ash contains various amounts of toxic metals. And studies have shown that food crops grown in large amounts can soak up hazardous concentrations of arsenic.

Because it is not classified as hazardous waste under Environmental Protection Agency standards, there is no federal supervision of its use in agriculture. Some states regulate it but their guidelines vary and often require no monitoring of how it is used, said Jeffrey Stant, director of the Coal Combustion Waste Initiative for the Environmental Integrity Project.

"For soil amendment, most cases are left to the industry itself to monitor where they put fly ash and how much they use of it," said Stant.

For more than a decade, companies have mixed fly ash with other waste to produce soil and compost. About 50,000 tons are used annually for agriculture nationwide.[/quote]



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one should expect crap in one's manure.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 3:56PM
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Not the kind with toxic metals.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 8:39PM
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cat_delgado(6 - Ansonia, CT)

This is really horrifying, it's such a disgrace that the very agency (EPA) that's supposed to protect us from this sort of thing is pushing the use of this disgusting stuff. I'm so glad the soil I bought was organic and I will be much more aware of the compost I buy from now on. NO FREE compost for me thank you unless it's from a private farm. This is so upsetting to think that the green beans you give your children could have poison in them!! I may have to make my garden beds larger and start learning how to can my own veggies. thanks for the eye opener. I hope more people read this article....scary

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 9:20PM
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I was very shocked by the articles and the trend they seem to indicate.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 12:20PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Evonne, that is a very disturbing article. I have long been mistrustful of the EPA, but this just goes over the top. I never did accept that putting 'sludge' compost on my garden was a good thing, so thankfully I don't have to worry about that. You are right, it's a shame that you have to buy more expensive organic compost to be safe. I try to use my own compost, or the few times I do buy bagged compost I've been buying the Coast of Maine line which I believe is a great organic compost. Really expensive! I don't buy it often or in large quantities and it doesn't go in the vegetable beds. Last year, when I was enlarging a bed, I bought a few bags of organic topsoil and added in a bag or two of the CofM Lobster compost. In the vegetable beds, I use our own compost and I cover crop. I've been tempted to bring home some free compost from the local towns that produce it. You can get a LOT for no cost at all, but I managed to resist the temptation. Just the thought of all those lawn clippings from yards that have chemical lawn services, just stops me in my tracks.

I guess the problem continues to be that they are finding it difficult to figure out what to do with all the toxic waste and byproducts produced in the world now.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 4:13PM
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cat_delgado(6 - Ansonia, CT)

The sad part is that most of the products that make this hazardous waste already have non-toxic, biodegradeable counter-parts that could easily be used in their place if the corporations were just willing to spend a little more money for eco conscious products. Did you know that Sony is the only company (major) that has begun to use NON-TOXIC STARCH based packaging that can be COMPOSTED instead of the toxic plastic that most other companies use? Hurrah to them!! More companies should show that kind of Eco responsability. Bottom line is a few bucks more in Most Corporate Big Wig pockets and toxic "compost" for the average unknowing joe. Just an FYI about the plastic's the biggest part of landfills next to plastic shopping bags...scary. We are going to be over run by shopping bags and hard plastic cases (like what your markers come in)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2010 at 6:23PM
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There are a lot of news stories on it, and even a website devoted to sludge issues. Here is a story from OCA and the link to Sludge News.

The People Who Want You to Believe Toxic Sludge Is Good for You

Members of the Organic Consumers Association staff went undercover to a meeting of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission employees and the toxic sludge industry last week.

What we found surprised us. We figured, in such a green city, that SFPUC employees would keep an arms length distance from for-profit sludge companies like Synagro that make their money dumping city sludge on rural lands. We thought that they would be trying to figure out green alternatives to flushing waste away with clean drinking water.

Little did we know. SFPUC, Synagro and CASA, the state lobbying group for all of California's city sewer commissions, are mounting a coordinated effort to salvage the business-as-usual practice of flushing household and industrial waste away with clean water and then contaminating farmland with toxic sludge leftover when the water is removed. They see San Francisco's sludge giveaway program as an essential component of their national campaign to build public acceptance for the disposal of toxic sewage sludge on yards, gardens and farms. They will fight any effort to shut the program down, and specifically named OCA allies the Center for Food Safety and RILES, who filed a legal petition with the San Francisco to stop the sludge giveaway, as enemies of their campaign.

The scary thing is, this public-private trifecta is well-resourced and unscrupulous. The Synagro rep boasted of earning the support of a local university for a toxic sludge project by promising a $25,000 yearly donation. The CASA rep talked about using "Congressional funny money" to fund studies that would provide science that backed-up the industry. And, the SFPUC rep, the public employee, stood by them smiling and nodding as they applauded her for not backing down in the face of public opposition to the contamination of San Francisco's green space with toxic sludge.
Click the link to read more.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sludge News

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 12:29PM
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