National Sludge Alliance
Fact Sheet # 137
BIOHAZARDOUS SLUDGE FERTILIZER, aka (BIOSOLIDS)
The greatest mystery of the 20th century is why a government obsessed with control and safe handling of biohazards
(infectious disease causing microorganisms) would promote the disposal of biohazards contaminated sludge on lawns,
gardens and food crops as a fertilizer. Plant scientists are at a loss to explain this. According to J.W. Buck, a plant
pathologist at the University of Georgia, "one impediment to this kind of research, however, is that plant pathology
laboratories currently lack the appropriate facilities for working with human pathogens, which are considered biosafety
Human pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) are also known cancer causing biohazards. However, generally symptoms of
biohazardous infectious pathogenic disease organisms spread by exposure through sewage sludge contaminating, air,
food or water, start with flu-like symptoms including gastroenteritis or diarrhea.
According to CDC, death will result for a relatively few people (5,000 to 9,000) each year from food poisoning. No
estimate is given for Enteric fever, Meningitis (inflammation of the membrane of brain and spinal cord), Carotids
(inflammation of the heart), Central nervous system involvement (brain and spinal cord), Pneumonia, infectious
hepatitis, severe (acute) respiratory infections (lungs), Cholera, hookworm, tapeworm, Visceral larva, migraine,
Ascariasis, Taeniasis, Toxoplasmosis, Balantidiasis, Amebic dysentery, Giadiasis, Aspergillosis, (FR 54-p.5829).
Civilian scientists have been genetically modifying bacteria and viruses for over 30 years. More recently, they have
been creating new viruses. As an example, Stanford scientists created a penicillin resistant E. coli bacteria in the 70s
and a modified cold virus (coronavirus) to treat cancer in 2002. All of the old bacteria and viruses as well as the new
versions go into the toilet. According to studies, by the time they go through a sewage treatment plant and are
condensed into sludge many have become drug resistant. The treatment processes do not destroy the biohazardous
nature of the microorganisms in sludge. (Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi 1990 Feb:37 (2) 83-90)
EPA studies have shown that testing for coliform levels in sludge doesn't indicate the quantity of biohazards or biosafety
of sludge used as a fertilizer Yet, two National Academy of Science Committees have recommended that this Class A
sludge is relatively safe to be sold as an unlabeled commercial fertilizer for your lawn and garden, simply because EPA
believes the product is acceptable. According to William Sanjour, Branch Chief of Hazardous waste division in 1978, this
EPA belief was a simple political decision made during the 78-80 sludge war. It was Sanjours belief that, "we [EPA] will
end up in court looking like fools". (7)
The National Academy of Sciences 1996 project report mentions the problem with compost in, "Use of Reclaimed Water
and Sludge in Food Crop Production". It states," There are instances in sludge processing, such as composting, in
which the coliform levels can not be satisfactorily reduced even though there is reason to believe that the sanitary level
of the material is acceptable [EPA, 1992b;..."
EPA also warned the legislators, states, scientists, sludge producers, and contractors in 1989 that the sanitary level of
the material included a limited primary list of 25 biohazardous infectious disease pathogens [germ family groups] in
sewage sludge which were pathogenic, i.e., could cause serious physical and mental harm, and death. Five infectious
disease pathogenic germs are bacteria, nine are viruses, five are helminths [worms], five are protozoans [smallest
known member of the animal kingdom] and one is a fungi [yeast, mold and mushroom]. In the 1993, EPA simply deleted
this list of biohazardous pathogenic germs from its final 503 blanket sludge disposal permit.
It is strange that EPA only included five bacteria on its biohazards list: Campylobacter jejuni, E. coli, Salmonella,
Shigella, Vibrio cholerae. Furthermore, according to EPA, these bacteria only cause Gastroenteritis----abdominal
cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills, malaise, nausea, headache;
EPA only included nine viruses on its biohazards list, which are:
Entroviruses or Picornaviruses (152 species); many of these will cause pneumonia,
Poliovirus (3 species) causes paralysis, meningitis, fever,
Coxsackievirus A (23 species) causes respiratory illness, fever, meningitis; Coxsackievirus B (6 species) causes same
symptoms as A and in addition myocarditis, congenital heart anomalies and inflammation of heart in newborns,
Echovirus (31 species) causes inflammation of the heart, spinal cord & brain,
Hepatitis A virus can cause death ,
Norwalk and Norwalk like viruses cause mostly diseases of the gastrointestinal tract,
Reovirus, unknown?, and
Rotavirus causes acute [sharp, severe] gastroenteritis.
The five Helminths on the biohazards list include worms such as: Hookworms, Tapeworms, Roundworm-threadworm,
Flatworms, Spintheaded worms. In humans, the nematode worms may end up in the brain or blood vessels of the eye,
liver, lung and heart. The larve cause internal bleeding and clotting in these tissues, which can lead to shock,
inflammation, and death. The clotting can lead to the failure of your major organs.
The five Protozoans on the biohazards list;
Balantidium is mild?,
Entamoeba histolyca forms liver abscess,
Giardia lambia is the cause of severe intestinal problems,
Cryptosporidium causes explosive diarrhea and cramps; it was first described in humans in 1976 and infected over
400,000 in Milwaukee during a water treatment plant failure in 1993.
Toxoplasma gondii causes pneumonitis, hepatitis and encephalitis.
The only fungi EPA chose to put on its biohazards list is: Aspergillus; it causes inflamed tissues in bronchi, lungs, aural
canal, skin and membranes of the eye, nose or urethra. It may also produce mycotic [fungus infection] nodules in the
lungs, liver, kidney and other organs causing death. (FR 54-P.5829 & Tabor's Cylopedic Medical Dictionary). (10)
There is a major problem with EPA's original biohazards list. After treatment, some biohazardous bacteria are
nondetectable by EPA tests procedures. According to microbiologists, some bacteria form an endospore, a cell type
developed from the vegetative bacterial cell through a sequence of morphological changes which enable it to survive
unfavorable environmental conditions. Although the vegetative cell of bacteria is usually killed by heat and disinfectant,
the endospore is resistant to agents that kill the vegetative cell (heating, drying, freezing, chemicals, and radiation).
Nester, Roberts, Pearsall and McCarthy (1978) in their text Microbiology point out the threat that endospores present.
They say: Endospores represent the most resistant form of life known; they tolerate extremes of heat and dryness, the
presence of disinfectants, and radiation. Some members of Bacillus and Clostridium play a role in fixing atmospheric
nitrogen and others (such as anthrax and botulinum) cause serious infectious diseases. Thermophilic strains of Bacillus
can grow at temperatures above 70 C (158 F) (p. 260)
The real problem begins when the infectious disease germs [biohazardous pathogens] enter the blood stream.
According to medical documents (EPA's 20 year old sludge policy has had a direct impact on public health), "The
number of patients with moderate to severe sepsis has increased significantly over the past 20 years." Sepsis is a term
used to indicate that the pathogen has entered the bloodstream of the infected person. Sepsis causes a "sysemic
response that adversely affects bloodflow to vital organs." "Sepsis also occurs with fungal, parasitic and mycobacterial
infections", as well as viruses.
Scientists sometimes mention endotoxins in relationship to bacterial exposure from biosolids/sludge. However, few
people understand that when endotoxins are released from gram-negative bacteria in the body, septic shock occurs to
susceptible individuals. Endotoxins are part of the bacteria's cell wall and toxic even after the bacterial cell has been
destroyed. In effect, if the bacteria happens to be killed by cooking or drugs, the effect can be worse than the infection.
They "initiate toxic reactions that may lead to disseminated intravascular coagulation [widespread blood clotting ],
widespread capillary (blood vessel) damage, hypotension [low blood pressure], acute [severe] respiratory distress
syndrome and fever." Unless the doctor knows what he/she is dealing with, death will follow quickly. According to
published reports, The coronavirus which causes severe acute (severe) respiratory syndrome (SARS) would have the
same effect on your health.
While exotoxins never seems to be mentioned by sludge scientists, this poisonous substance is also produced by
biohazardous microorganisms and secreted into the surrounding tissue. Exotoxins disrupt a cell's functions or kill it.
Exotoxins are produced by bacteria such as Staphylociccus aureus, Streptococci, Tetanus, E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella,
Staphylococcus aureus also produces Staphylococcal enterotoxin B in the intestinal contents of the exposed individual.
The toxins are also produced in the food and are heat-resistant and they are not removed by cooking or boiling. Three
to 12 hours after enterotoxin B develops and is absorbed into the blood stream, the victim develops fever, headaches
and pains in the muscles: vomiting and diarrhea are more likely, but Pulmonary edema [fluid build up] and Acute
Respiratory Distress Syndrome [SARS] can develop. Exotoxins are extremely hazardous to you health. As an example,
Diphtheriagenerally begins with a sore throat, and is an acute inflammatory condition affecting the upper respiratory
tract characterized by membrane formation which may block the airways. The bacteria multiply locally and produce a
powerful exotoxin that causes damage to the myocardium [middle layer of the walls of the heart, composed of cardiac
[heart muscle], nerve endings and the adrenal glands [on the surface of the kidney].
Another example, Pseudomonas aeruginosa Exotoxin A is one of the toxic proteins released by pathogenic strains of
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a bacteria that lives in the soil and decomposing matter). Like diphtheria toxin, exotoxin A is
translocated into susceptible mammalian cells including humans. As a result, this molecule is cytopathic for [having the
ability to injury or destroy] a number of cultured cell lines and is toxic to animals [humans]. Although exotoxin A and
diphtheria toxin have identical enzymatic activity, they exhibit distinct target cell specificities and are immunologically
Fact is, EPA can not afford to scientifically look at the exposure of individuals to infectious diseases and their toxins in
sludge. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is an example, "Scientists have several theories as to how the toxins
actually cause death in SIDS infants. One theory is based on the toxin's ability to insert itself into cell membranes. By
doing this, they create ion channels which cause cells to swell and die. If the toxins act upon neural [brain] or myocardial
[heart] cellular membranes, this will lead to death in infants. A second theory suggests that the toxins cause toxic shock
due to the release of cytokine. This cytokine release is induced by the combined action of staphylococcal antigens and
endotoxins (Morris, 1999). Besides causing toxic shock, this increase of cytokine in the circulatory system increases
somnolence, or drowsiness, and decreases sleep arousal, and therefore may cause SIDS, which usually occurs while an
infant is sleeping at night (Morris,1999)."(3)
"Streptococcus pneumoniae is the most frequent cause of meningitis in the United States, accounting for 47% of all
cases, followed by Neisseria meningitides, the meningococcus (25%), group B streptococcus (12%), Listeria
monocytogenes (8%), and Haemophilus influenzae (7%). The pneumococcus continues to exhibit the highest
mortality and morbidity rates among these more common bacterial causes of meningitis, with a 4% to 16% mortality rate
in children and a substantially higher rate in adults. Death is the result in more than half of the elderly adults (older
than 70 years of age) infected with pneumococcal meningitis. Neurologic sequelae (eg, deafness, hydrocephalus,
seizure disorders, and mental retardation) occur in one third to one half of survivors." (2)
"In a paper in the February issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Kirk U. Knowlton, from the University of
California at San Diego, and colleagues note that enteroviral infections of the heart are one the most common causes of
acute myocarditis [severe heart disease] and subsequent dilated cardiomyopathy [diseased heart muscle]." (5)
EPA did understand the potential health problems and proposed (1978) at some future date, to establish rules for: 5)
Radioactivity; 6) Infectiousness--diseases; 7) Phytotoxicity-- in plants; and 8) Teratogenicity--birth malformations-- and
Mutagenicity--birth mutations. The future rules would expand the [hazardous waste] characteristics to included
radioactivity, unnatural genetic activity, bioaccumulation, and separate considerations of toxicity to aquatic organisms,
terrestrial plants and humans [via chronic exposure to organic chemicals]. (1)
That did not happen and today, bacteria (60%) and viruses (40%) cause over 76 million cases of food poisoning every
year. Over 325,000 cases involve hospitalization. CDC claims "only" 5000 to 9000 deaths are attributed to food
poisoning each year. That is up considerable from the six million cases of food poisoning in 1990 when EPA/WEF
promoted sludge spreading went into hyper drive for lawns and food crops. All in the name of sound science and with
deletion of all warnings to the buyer.
Scientists doing serious research are unlikely to know sludge is even associated with their research or have the funds to
search for the truth. As an example, In 1996, the truth started to emerge in Madison, Wisconsin. The University of
Wisconsin--Madison's veterinary medical teaching hospital studied an outbreak of drug resistant salmonella anatum in
horses in 1991. An epidemiologic investigation was done. A number of horses referred to the University were found to
have the drug resistant salmonella strains from several locations in Illinois and Wisconsin. They also found several other
drug resistant strains of enteric bacteria, including E. coli. Accordingto the study, "After may 1991, several horses from
which S anatumwas isolated were admitted at various time from various geographic locations, suggesting S anatum may
have been endemic in the horse population in the area surrounding the veterinary medical teaching hospital and private
veterinary clinic." (6)
Six years later Wisconsin officials blame biohazards contamination on septage and grey water from kitchens. But, all we
need look at is the results of the study, since Madison has been a leader in disposing of biohazardous sludge as a
"MADISON, Wisconsin, April 10, 2003 (ENS) - Wisconsin state officials are warning citizens that residential drinking water
wells are susceptible to viruses that can cause illness, in particular in young children and the elderly. The officials cited
a new study conducted by researchers at the Marshaled Medical Research Foundation that found eight percent of wells
tested were contaminated with viruses like hepatitis A, rotavirus, a Norwalk-like virus and enterovirus." (8)
In 1989, EPA said, "The major human health, environmental, and aesthetic factors of concern in the land application of
sewage sludge are related to pathogens, metals and persistent organic chemicals content, and odors." (FR 54-p.5755).
EPA knew but did not and does not share this health information with the public, including doctors, farmers, or
homeowners. In fact EPA claims that they are not responsible for human health--but, in this case, EPA does control of
the agencies who are responsible for your health. --LSI--
1. FR. 43, #243, p. 58950/12-18-76
2. Medscape Infectious Diseases 4(2), 2002. © 2002 Medscape, Russell W. Steele, MD, is Professor and
Vice-Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, and Division
Head, Clinical Department of Infectious Diseases, Children's Hospital, New Orleans, Louisiana.
4. More People Are Getting Sick From Eating Fresh Fruits, American Phytopathological Society, www.scisoc.org
5. Therapeutic Target for Enterovirus-Induced Myocarditis Identified, J Clin Invest 2003;111:469-478.
6. Control of an outbreak of salmonellosis caused by drug-resistant Salmonella anatum in horses at a veterinary
hospital and measures to prevent future infection, August 1. 1996, JAVMA Vol 209, No. 3,p. 629.
7. Sanjour, William, 78-80 Sludge War, http://pwp.lincs.net/sanjour/Sludge3.htm
9. National Sludge Alliance fact sheets, http://www.penweb.org/issues/sludge
10. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edition 18, 1997, F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, Pa