|National Sludge Alliance Fact Sheets
NSA Fact Sheet # 130
EPA's Toxic/Hazardous Chemicals in Biosolids
The National Sludge Alliance has called for an immediate ban on sludge used as a fertilizer because EPA has
documented the danger to the environment and human health from Toxic /Hazardous substances. Exposure can be
direct or indirect through exposure to contaminate air, water or food crops.
EPA's scientist salesmen have claimed there is no scientific data to support activist's claims that sludge is a toxic or
hazardous waste. However EPA included part 503.9(t) in the regulation. It says, a "Pollutant is an organic
substance, an inorganic substance, a combination of organic and inorganic substances, or a pathogenic organism that,
after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation, or assimilation into an organism either directly from
the environment or indirectly by ingestion through the food chain, could, on
the basis of information available to the Administrator of EPA, cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer,
genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including malfunction in reproduction), or physical deformations in either
organisms or offspring of the organisms."
The next question is, what information is available to the Administrator of EPA concerning the chemicals, which could
cause this much damage to human health? Apparently, these scientist salesmen and their partners have ignored the
information in Appendix VIII to 40 CFR Part 261 and hope we do too. Appendix VIII lists approximately 400 chemical
According to EPA Administrator, "Substances will be listed on appendix VIII only if they have been shown in scientific
studies to have toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic effects on humans or other life forms." "(Wastes listed in
accordance with these criteria will be designated Toxic wastes.)" (40 CFR part 261.11
EPA is and has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the years on public relations and scientific
double-talk to fool the public into thinking sludge is safe. Let's review what EPA knows about toxic. / Hazardous
substances we can find in sludge.
To start with, no State would have every allowed a permit to be written or allowed a self-permitting program for sludge
disposal, if the authorities had read the preamble to the 1989 proposed part 503 sludge regulation. In fact no local or
state authority could/would dare issue a permit under part 503 for sludge disposal as a soil amendment, without telling
the farmer, if they understood that EPA really does have the "Sound Science" to show sludge is very hazardous to the
farmers environmental health. The liabilities were and are just too great.
The EPA Office of Water has dramatically underplayed its knowledge of both toxic/hazardous substances and
pathogens. Yet, in 1989 it did identified twenty-one carcinogens (cancer causing agents) in the proposed sludge
regulation based on the "Final Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment" (51 FR 33992, September 24, 1986).
Five of these are carcinogenic when inhaled, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium VI and Nickel. EPA only included
five of the part 503 "regulated" heavy metals on it carcinogen list, while NIOSH's states 9 of the 10 are carcinogens.
TABLE V-1. -- Carcinogens
Benzo (a) pyrene
Bis (2-3thythexyl) phthalate
This proposed regulation couldn't fly because EPA proposed very low levels of the [carcinogenic toxic/hazardous
substances] in the regulation. The only way EPA could sell or give away this product was to remove the references to
pathogens and carcinogens.
However, EPA warned: "there is the potential for an increase in the application of sewage sludge to agricultural land.
Such an increase could increase exposure to lead from sewage sludge. "In fact, our impact analysis
projects there will be a 10-percent decrease in agricultural land."(FR 54, p. 5777)
As an example, such an increase did also lead to air pollution. Title 1, sub. A, SEC. 112. Of the Clean Air act also give a
list of HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANTS (6) Hazardous air pollutant. - The term "hazardous air pollutant" means any air
pollutant listed pursuant to subsection (b). At the end of the list we find:
0 Antimony Compounds
0 Arsenic Compounds (inorganic including arsine)
0 Beryllium Compounds
0 Cadmium Compounds
0 Chromium Compounds
0 Cobalt Compounds
0 Coke Oven Emissions
0 Cyanide Compounds1
0 Glycol ethers2
0 Lead Compounds
0 Mercury Compounds
0 Fine mineral fibers3
0 Nickel Compounds
0 Polycylic Organic Matter4
0 Radionuclides (including radon) 5
0 Selenium Compounds
NOTE: For all listings above which contain the word "compounds" and for glycol ethers, the following applies: Unless
otherwise specified,these listings are defined as including any unique chemical substance that contains the named
chemical (i.e., antimony, arsenic, etc.) as part of that chemical's infrastructure.
In spite of the fact that a defined list of toxic pollutants in sludge has been around since 1981, "according to EPA, "The
term "toxic pollutant" is not used in the final 1993 part 503 regulation because this generally is limited to the list of
priority toxic pollutants developed by EPA. The Agency concluded that Congress intended that EPA develop the part
503 pollutant limits for a broader range of substances that might interfere with the use and disposal of sewage sludge,
not just the 126 priority pollutants." (FR. 58, 32, p. 9327)" (NSA Fact Sheet #100)
The NPDES permit requirement, part 122.2 states: "Toxic pollutant means any pollutant listed as toxic under section
307(a)(1) or, in the case of "sludge use or disposal practices," any pollutant identified in regulations implementing
section 405(d) of the CWA." Since Feb. 4, 1981, the list of toxic pollutants designated pursuant to section 307(a)(1) of
the Act: could be found in 40 CFR 401.15 Toxic pollutants.
The EPA Environmental Terms list show a: "Toxic Chemical: [is] Any chemical listed in EPA rules as "Toxic Chemicals
Subject to Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986.""and; "Toxic Pollutants:
[are] Materials that cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them. The quantities and
exposures necessary to cause these effects can vary widely."
It is apparent that EPA does have a problem understanding the facts in its own documentation. But the 126 Priority
Pollutants are listed in Appendix A to Part 423. Toxic Organics have been defined and listed in part 413.02 General
definitions, since Nov. 7, 1986: "In addition to the definitions set forth in 40 CFR part 401 and the chemical analysis
methods set forth in 40 CFR part 136, both of which are incorporated herein by reference, the following definitions apply
to this part (Secs. 301, 304, 306, 307, 308, and 501 of the Clean Water Act (the Federal Water Pollution
Control Act Amendments of 1972, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et. seq., as amended by the Clean Water Act of 1977, Pub. L.
"(i) the term TTO shall mean total toxic organics, which is the summation of all quantifiable values greater than 0.01
milligrams per liter for the following toxic organics: " A list follows in the regulation.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has data on many thousands of [toxic / hazardous]
pollutants. As an example, the ten toxic heavy metals addressed in sludge (Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium,
Copper, Lead, Mercury, Molybdenum, Nickel, Selenium and Zinc) "regulated" by Part 503 are all identified by NIOSH as
poisonous by inhalation or ingestion or by other routes. NIOSH identified nine of the heavy metals as
cancer causing agents. NIOSH also has data, which show seven of the heavy metals cause mutagenic effects in living
organisms. (Public Facts #108)" (NSA Fact Sheet #109)
The full OSHA list can be found in 29 CFR 1910. However, the farm is not considered a work place by NIOSH.
Under the Clean Water Act's Municipal Sludge Co-Disposal landfill regulation, EPA's Office of Water included a "List of
Hazardous Inorganic and Organic Constituents" [over 200 substances of concern in] in " Appendix II to Part 258".
Even in a safe (well managed) landfill, Appendix I to Part 258 lists 15 hazardous inorganic (heavy metals) and 47
hazardous organic "Constituents for Detection Monitoring" in groundwater. EPA acknowledged the same problems could
be expected under part 503: "Sewage sludge with high concentrations of certain organic and metal pollutants may pose
human health problems when disposed of in sludge only landfills (often referred to as mono-fills) or simply left on the
land surface, if the pollutants leach from the sludge into ground water. Therefore, the pollutant concentrations may need
to be limited or other measures such as impermeable liner's must be taken to ensure the ground water is not
contaminated" (FR. 58, 32, p.9259) NSA Fact Sheet #101
According to official EPA Environmental Terms: "Hazardous Substance: [is] 1. Any material that poses a threat to human
health and/or the environment. Typical hazardous substances are toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or chemically
reactive. 2. Any substance designated by EPA to be reported if a designated quantity of the substance is spilled in the
waters of the United States or is otherwise released into the environment."
The long list of hazardous substances were designated as such in 40 CFR part 116.4 prior to Aug. 14, 1989: "The
elements and compounds appearing in Tables 116.4 A and B are designated as hazardous substances in accordance
with section 311(b)(2)(A) of the Act. This designation includes any isomers and hydrates, as well as any solutions and
mixtures containing these substances. Synonyms and Chemical Abstract System (CAS) numbers have been added for
convenience of the user only. In case of any disparity the common names shall be considered the designated
Then we have: "Extremely Hazardous Substances: [are] any of 406 chemicals identified by EPA as toxic, and listed
under SARA Title III."
According to 40 CFR 370.2 HAZARDOUS CHEMICAL REPORTING: COMMUNITY RIGHT-TO-KNOW:
"Extremely hazardous substance means a substance listed in the appendices to 40 CFR part 355, Emergency Planning
The writers of part 503 also ignored:
"(c) Section 301 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new
subsection: "(1) The Administrator may not modify any requirement of this section as it applies to any specific pollutant
which is on the toxic pollutant list under section 307(a)(1) of this Act"." (91 STAT. 1950, PL 95-217, 1977, 33 USC 1311)
NSA Fact Sheet #104
However, that didn't stop EPA from using the courts to remove chromium from the part 503. "It would appear that EPA
engineered a lawsuit by a different sludge industry association [partner], the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage
Agencies (AMSA), as well as the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and the City of Pueblo, Colorado, under the
shelter of Leather Industries of America, Inc. (United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, Nos. 93-1187,
93-1376, 93-1404 and 93-1555) The United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, ruled: "(1) regulatory safe
harbor for land application of sewage sludge based on the 99th percentile levels of chromium and selenium indicated in
national survey violated Clean Water Act." (40 Federal Reporter; 3d series, p. 392)" (NSA Fact Sheet # 106)
Since EPA couldn't justify the extremely high numbers to the court, itsimply moved chromium from the beneficial use
section of part 503. "In effect, EPA now makes it possible for Publicly Owned Treatment Works treating tannery
sewerage to "beneficially" use sludge with the tannery chromium in excess of 30,000 mg/kg on lawns, gardens and food
crop production land -- which can not be disposed of in a part 503 landfill." (NSA Fact Sheet # 106)
After looking into the toxic/hazardous sludge issues, the Federal Department of Transportation now classifies all
agricultural products (i.e., soil amendments and fertilizers (biosolids)) as hazardous materials under 49 CFR 171.8
Definitions and abbreviations. " Agricultural product means a hazardous material, other than a hazardous waste, whose
end use directly supports the production of an agricultural commodity including, but not limited to a fertilizer, pesticide,
soil amendment or fuel. An agricultural product is limited to a material in Class 3, 8 or 9, Division 2.1, 2.2, 5.1, or 6.1, or
an ORM-D material. "
EPA stated that it didn't regulate all the priority pollutants because Congress wanted it to address many more
toxic/hazardous substances that could effect sludge disposal. The 2002 edition of Sittig's Handbook of TOXIC AND
HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS AND CARCINOGENS contains 2,608 pages and yet, EPA only lists nine toxic/hazardous
metals of concern in sludge. It is certain that this larger number of toxic/hazardous chemicals and pathogens is what
Congress wanted EPA to address before sludge was ever put on our food crops. -LSI-