ODOR CAUSING GASES GENERATED BY SLUDGE
FROM:                                                                                                  http://www.gsenet.orgllibrary/2Orcy/odor-gas.txt
David L. Lewis, Ph.D., Research Microbiologist
Department of ,Marine Sciences
University of Georgia; Athens, GA 30602
Tel"e. (706) 542 7370
August 17, 1999

I greatly appreciate you contacting me today concerning my research
on potential health hazards from, land application' of processed sewage
sludge (biosolids). Although I am interested in pathogen problems, I have
of late been looking into what appears to be potentially serious problems
with some of the odor-causing  gases generated by sludge. In particularly,
it appears that sufficient, amounts- of-organic amines, such as
trimethyl-
amine (TMA), can develop from  microbial and chemical reactions that
occur in sludge.
..
Exposure to sufficiently high concentrations of gaseous organic
amines can cause severe irritation of the eyes and skin, and damage to mucus
membranes leading to pulmonary edema (bleeding in the
respiratory system). These toxic gases can also cause damage to the:
lungs, liver ,and other internal organs. Initial symptoms include eye,
irritation, skin rashes, burning in the mouth, nose, or 'throat,
generation of mucus, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Such damged
tissues can serve as a port of entry for bacterial or viral pathogens,
leading to flu-like infections, pneumonia, or bacteremia/septicaemia.

Nitrogen-based, cationic polymers added to sewage sludge during the
dewatering process enhance the potential for biosolids to generate
large amounts of organic amines, formed by biodegradation . The amines
are released in gaseous form when the alkalinity is raised somewhat:
above pH 1O, such as by adding lime.

It appears that sufficient quantities of organic amines can be
generated by sludge to cause clinical symptoms in individuals working
with the  material or living in areas  where large amounts are applied.
Adverse reactions may be manifested immediately among workers where
sewage sludge is dewatered and limed at a waste treatment facility.
Or, symptoms may be experienced among people living in and around
areas where fresh 'biosolids are deposited and still degassing. Delayed
exposures may also occur in the field when additional lime is applied,
or rain causes dried biosolids to begin reacting again.

Symptoms associated with organic amine poisoning are occurring with,
some frequency among waste treatment plants workers, drivers who haul
the material, and individuals living {n and around areas where
biosolids are applied. The effects of organic amine poisoning are
serious, sometimes irreversible, and  can lead to life-threatening
complications. In my opinion, this is a potentially significant public
health problem that should be seriously investigated.

DAVID L. LEWIS, Ph.D., RESEARCH
MICROBIOLOGIST ON ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS
FROM EXPOSURE TO IRRITANT AMINE GASES
EMITTED BY CLASS B SEWAGE SLUDGE

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DAVID 1.. LEWIS, Ph.D· RESEARCH MICROBIOLOGIST· PATHOGEN RISKS FROM APPLYING SEWAGE SLUDGE
TO LAND
JULY 1, 2001- AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY - ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE &
TECHNOLOGY - pages 287A - 293A

http://pubs.acs.orglsubscribeljourriaISlesthag-al36/i13/pdt77021ewis.pdf

"Reports of illnesses and deaths from residents living near land application sites who are exposed to dust and
water runoff from fields treated with sewage sludge indicate a pattern of chemical irritation. Symptoms,
such as burning eyes,burning Iungs, difficulty in breathing, and skin lesions, are followed within days to
months by complaints of gastrointestinal, skin and respiratory infections."
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http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-245812/111qc
Interactions of pathogens and irritants in Iand-applied sewage sludges (biosolids)
David Lewis, David Gattie', Marc Novak,Susan Sanchez and Charles Pumphrey
BMC Public Health 2002 2: 11

"Results

Affected residents lived within approximately 1km of land application sites and generally
complained of chemical irritation (e.g.,skin rashes and burning oft he eyes, throat, and
lungs) after exposure to winds blowing from treated fields. A prevalence of Staphylococcus
aureus infections of the skin and respiratory tract was found. Approximately in 4 of 54
individuals were infected, including 2 fatalities (septicaemia, pneumonia). This result was
consistent with the prevalence of S. aureus infections accompanying diaper rashes in which
the organism, which is commonly found in the lower human colon, tends to invade irritated
or inflamed tissue.

Conclusions

When assessing public health risks from applying sewage sludges in residential areas,
potential interactions of chemical contaminants with law levels of pathogens should be
considered.  An increased risk of infection may occur when allergic and non-allergic
reactions to endotoxins and other chemical components irritate skin and mucus membranes
and thereby compromise normal barriers to infection."
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