Secrets Behind the Emerging Sewage Sludge Scandal:
                                 A Brief Literature Review
                              Jim Bynum and Gail Bynum, Ph.D
                                                                                                    Revised   3/01/2010

It is hard for most people to believe that our government agencies such as the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) would deliberately promote the spread of antibiotic
resistant bacteria on farmland,  ignore science and lie to farmers and the public for 30
years, but they have.  In 1981, EPA, FDA and USDA signed the federal policy
Application of Municipal Sewage Sludge For The Production of Fruits and Vegetables. A
Statement of Federal Policy and Guidance to promote the use of antibiotic resistant viable
but nonculturable organisms in contaminated sewage sludge on vegetables and fruit crops.
While promoting the policy, all three still agreed that heavy metals, toxic organic
compounds, and pathogenic microorganisms are a great concern. Few people are aware of
this policy or the warning, "government can not offer any indemnity against product recall,
seizure, or other enforcement actions” The policy was released as a regulation in 1993 and
expanded to include sewage sludge sold to home owners as a soil amendment.

USDA outlined why there was a concern and the government could not offer any indemnity
in the 2004 study, “
Persistence of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Soil and
on Leaf Lettuce and Parsley Grown in Fields Treated with Contaminated Manure Composts
or Irrigation Water”. USDA stated, "E. coli O157:H7 persisted for 154 to 217 days in soils
amended with contaminated composts and was detected on lettuce and parsley for up to 77
and 177 days, respectively, after seedlings were planted." Furthermore, "In all cases, E. coli
O157:H7 in soil, regardless of source or crop type, persisted for >5 months after application
of contaminated compost or irrigation water." Similar information on Salmonella was
published in
1975 when Hess and Breer reported Salmonella species in 90% of the sludges
they examined and observed that the organisms could survive for up to 72 weeks on
grassland. They said, “One of our most important findings was the fact that neither aerobic
stabilization nor anaerobic digestion significantly reduces the contamination with

Our government uses a  Cost - Benefit analysis for its policies and rules. In effect, a certain
unknown number of people, animals, and farmland are expendable and environmental
damage to water is acceptable in order for our governmental entities to save a few dollars
and to spread that money around for the good of the corporate environment.  The health
and damage cost is to residents near sludge sites as well as farmers using the sludge. The
packers, middle men and  public, who buy contaminated produce and are exposed to
contaminated water, may also pay a very high health and financial cost. The real cost will fall
on our children and grandchildren who are already suffering from an epidemic of diseases.

A secondary benefit to the Agencies is that they will receive billions of tax payer dollars to
protect public health, food and water from the deadly disease causing agents spread under
the policy. The cost to the taxpayers is the health disaster currently in progress as virtually
all forms of diseases have increased. The most dramatic being
Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) which increased from less than 2,000 hospitalizations in
1993 to over 368,000 hospitalizations in 2005. There is a correlation between the increased
health cost damaging the national economy and increased use of sludge on grazing land,
food crop production land, parks, forests, school grounds, home lawns and gardens.

For over one hundred and ten years medical scientists have documented their fight to
control one of these agents, fatal E. coli infections of women and children in hospitals. In the
last seventy years scientists have published the experiments performed in the race to create
antibiotic resistant chimera bacteria never before seen in nature. Along the way scientists
have discovered, and then rediscovered bacteria that are viable but nonculturable (VBNC)
by standard laboratory methods. These bacteria are very much alive but in a dormant state
due to stress caused by cold, heat, starvation or lack of moisture. When the stress is
removed, the bacteria will reactivate to full growth. EPA documents reveal similar research
done by in house scientists that also show harm to workers from exposure to sewage sludge.

In 1992, we reviewed the proposed part 503 sludge policy in the paper
“Sludge Disposal:
Sanitary Landfill-Open Dump-Superfund Site?”, which was published by the New Mexio
Environmental Department February 1993. It was a conservative propose which listed
pathogenic disease causing organisms and 21 cancer causing chemical agents, five of
which were carcinogens when inhaled. “The paper concludes that sludge can not be safely
disposed of on farmland because: 1) only 28 out of 400 toxic pollutants are proposed for
regulation, 2) 15 out of 25 toxic inorganics on the superfund list are not included, 3) Thirty-
three pollutants considered hazardous for land disposal are not included.” The final part
503 dropped the toxic pollutants from consideration, five toxic inorganics and removed all
references to the 25 disease causing organisms and 21 cancer causing agents. EPA has
since dropped the carcinogenic chromium  from the beneficial use
section 503.13, because
the 3,000 ppm level was five times higher than allowed in the surface disposal
503.23 of 600 ppm. .  

In this review we must ignore the
multitude of pathogens and chemical caused diseases and
limit the focus to
Escherichia coli (E. coli) and twenty-nine similar disease causing bacteria
that show activity in the EPA coliform test method.  These bacteria were formerly known as
Bacillus coli and similar unidentified coli like forms of bacteria giving similar reactions on a
specific laboratory culture medium. The thirty disease causing bacteria belong to a family of
bacteria currently identified as Enterobacteriaceae. In 1914, the Public Health Association
adopted this family, primarily Bacillus coli (E. coli) as an indicator of fecal contamination in
food and water.  At that time E. coli was the only enteric bacteria documented to kill many
women and infants after childbirth.  

Once EPA and its partners decided to spread disease contaminated sludge on fruits and
vegetables, they needed a cheap test to fool the public. The 1904 Eijkman test was ideal for
that purpose. It had been proposed to confirm fresh E. coli contamination in water. It was
adopted by EPA and its partners and then renamed the Fecal coliform test.

The Dutch physician, Christiaan Eijkman, had presumed that E. coli from cold blooded
animals was different from that of warm blooded animals. He found that E.coli from humans
and other warm blooded animals was the only enteric bacteria that could ferment lactose to
produce gas and acid at 46°C (114.8°F) within 24 hours. The high heat of the test
suppressed the growth of the other twenty-nine pathogenic bacteria to prevent false
positives. However,
Brown and Skinner, University of Minnesota, proved that theory wrong in
a 1930 study. They did agree with Eijkman and the American Public Health Association that
E. coli was the only bacteria of sanitary importance. There finding was that not all E. coli
produced gas in 48 hours. Furthermore, they found that some E. coli that produced gas
within 24 hours were not viable (thought to be dead) at the end of 48 hours. Moreover, they
found the fecal coliform test results contained fewer colonies than those in the Coliform test
at 37.5°C (99.5°F). Their conclusion was the lack of bacterial activity in fecal coliform test
did not assure an absence of fecal pollution, while the lack of bacterial activity in the
Coliform test did ensure the lack of fecal pollution.

When EPA adopted the fecal coliform test as a method to assure the safety of sewage
sludge, they first had to convince the public sludge was not a fecal pollutant. Therefore, the
name biosolids was adopted by EPA and its industry partners.  The next step was to
convince the public there was some safe contact level of E. coli in sludge disposed of on
agricultural land, parks, school grounds and home lawns as a fertilizer.

According to the
part 503.32 sludge policy for Class A, "Either the density of fecal coliform in
the sewage sludge shall be less than 1000 Most Probable Number per gram of total solids
(dry weight basis), or the density of Salmonella sp. bacteria in the sewage sludge shall be
less than three Most Probable Number per four grams of total solids (dry weight basis) at
the time the sewage sludge is used or disposed; at the time the sewage sludge is prepared
for sale or give away in a bag or other container for application to the land; or at the time
the sewage sludge or material derived from sewage sludge is prepared to meet the
requirements in §503.10 (b), (c), (e), or (f)."

Salmonella is a part of the E. coli family. The primary bacteria, E. coli, may double every 20
minutes to create a colony of millions in a matter of hours. Therefore, EPA's partners chose
to meet the fecal coliform test requirement for E.coli in Method 1681 at the time the sludge is
prepared to meet the Class A requirement. The intent to fool the public is reflected in Class
A requirement of less than 1,000 most probable number of E. coli per gram of sludge. We
have to go to Method 1681 to find the true requirement is to "Count and record number of
colonies per plate."  The colonies counted on the culture plates are recorded as the most
probable number (MPN) or Colony Forming Units (CFU)  to meet the Class A requirement.
There is no economical way to count the actually number of bacteria in each colony. Thus,
we have to remember, while the high heat of the test stops some bacteria from growing and
slows the growth of E.coli,  the bacteria in the sludge continues to grow at a normal rate.
This is the reason neither EPA, its industry partners, nor state environmental departments
can allow sludge to be tested properly at the correct temperature before disposal on the
farm or your lawn.

EPA’s use of
exclusions in federal laws to promote sludge use have caused attorneys to rely
on Common Law in the fight to protect the rights of U. S. Citizens.  This fear of Common Law
was evident in 2008 when the on line edition of  “Inside EPA” published an article with the
headline,  “
EPA and it’s industry partners became extremely concerned that the current federal
authority to dump contaminated sludge on farmland was not upheld by federal courts who
would not protect the industry from civil actions under Common Law.

Coliform and the Law

EPA uses a very misleading definition for coliform. According to EPA and the Federal
Register, “Total coliforms are a group of closely related bacteria that are (with few
exceptions) not harmful to humans. They are natural and common inhabitants of the soil
and ambient waters (e.g., lakes, rivers, and estuaries), as well as the gastrointestinal tracts
of animals (67 FR 19030, 19085; April 17, 2002).”  

Generally, when EPA and its industry partners talk about generic E. coli or
coliform not causing disease, they are referring to a laboratory cultured strain designated E.
coli K12 and it‘s many cloned recombinant derivatives. K12 is a seventy year old cultured
laboratory strain of tamed feeble bacteria that has lost the ability to be harmful or survive in
the environment. It is used extensively in commercial production processes and testing
procedures. The original K12 came from a convalescent diphtheria patient in 1922

The colon bacterium Escherichia coli (formerly
Bacillus coli or Coli bacillus and its coli like
forms of the family Enterobacteriaceae ) was one of the first established causes of infectious
diseases in humans by the medical profession. The term was later shortened to coliforms,
which included E. coli. In 1910, Sir Thomas Oliver, writing in the "British Medical Journal,
stated, “This bacillus may be responsible for
appendicitis, peritonitis, inflammation of the
genito-urinary tract, pneumonia, inflammation of the intestine, leptomeningitis, perineal
abscess, cholangitis, cholecystitis, myelitis, puerperal fever, wound infections and
septicemia. It is the cause of many abscesses about the intestine and responsible for many
ischiorectal abscesses. From the pus of an appendicitis abscess we may perhaps obtain
culture of Escherich's bacillus, but usually find also streptococci or staphylococci, and
sometimes pneumococcus. Colon bacilli introduced into the system by tainted food may be
responsible for epidemic pneumonia . A few years ago there was such an epidemic in
Middlesbrough, England.” The latest addition to the E. coli family is
Necrotizing (NTEC)
Escherichia coli strains (flesh eating).

A quick internet search reveals coliform infections included:  
bacteriamia and septicemia;
brain abscesses; diarrhea; endocarditis; gastroenteritis; necrotizing meningo-encephalitis;
necrotizing fasciitis;  mastitis  -- inflammation of the breast; meningitis; pneumonia;
Honeymoon cystitis -- Urinary Tract Infections, rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis;
thrombosis of femoral artery;
Neonatal death and adult deaths, mostly women. The medical
profession has since renamed coliform as enteric bacteria, while EPA uses coliform as the
name of a test. Of course, the test indicates these infectious agents are present, it just does
not show which bacterial strains are present.

Due to the infectious nature of these pathogenic bacteria in sludge, a solid waste,
the Solid
Waste Act defines it as a hazardous waste. Under Sec. 6903, The term ``hazardous waste''
means a solid waste, or combination of solid wastes, which because of its quantity,
concentration, or physical, chemical, or infectious characteristics may--
(A) cause, or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious
irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or
(B) pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when
improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.”

Solid waste, sewage, sewage sludge and  biological materials are pollutants under the
Clean Water Act (CWA), as are fecal coliform.  However, the Wastewater Management
Program at EPA redefined pollutant and fecal coliform when it released the Part 503 Sludge
Use and Disposal policy, where it does mention that pathogens could kill you when exposed
through the air, water or food chain in the definition of a pollutant.  Under CWA Sec. 1362,
“The term ``toxic pollutant'' means those pollutants, or combinations of pollutants, including
disease-causing agents, which after discharge and upon exposure, ingestion, inhalation or
assimilation into any organism, either directly from the environment or indirectly by ingestion
through food chains, will, on the basis of information available to the Administrator, cause
death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological
malfunctions (including malfunctions in reproduction) or physical deformations, in such
organisms or their offspring.”

While the 503 sludge policy definition of a pollutant does not mention sewage or sludge, it is
plain enough to scare anyone away from using sludge.
Under 503.9(t) 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 (humans) or offspring (children) of the organisms.” EPA
claims reducing pathogens results in a safe sludge, if certain fabricated numbers are met in
the fecal coliform test. The fabricated numbers actually represent the number of heat
stressed inhibited bacterial colonies at the end of 48 hours, each of which include millions of
individual bacteria.

Coliform and Pathogens

Coliform is the current name of a standardized laboratory test for the family
Enterobacteriaceae,  gram negative lactose fermenting bacteria that produce gas and/or
acid within 48 hours, when incubated at 35°C (95°F). Fecal coliform is the name of the test
used to suppress or inhibit the growth of that family of bacteria except the 2-3% of the same
heat stressed bacteria that continue to produce some gas and/or acid within 48 hours, when
incubated at 44.5°C (112.1°F). The  question to be answered is, why would laboratory
technicians count colonies at the end of the test and report them as individual bacteria,
which formed the colony.

After three decades of the EPA, FDA and USDA policy to spread contaminated sewage on
fruits and vegetables, coliforms have become a mythical group of bacteria used to indicate
there might be infectious pathogens in water, recycled sewage effluent and sludge.
Coliforms and pathogens are two words EPA, FDA and USDA do not want the public to
recognize as  a synonym for about
thirty gram negative infectious enteric disease causing
organisms.  In the early studies scientists were candid in identifying some enteric bacteria
included in the coliform group. We should note that while E. coli is the primary coliform and
fecal coliform, E. coli 0157 does not ferment lactose, therefore it does not meet the
definition of a coliform or fecal coli form.

As an example, in their 1971 study,  “
Incidence of Infectious Drug Resistance Among Fecal
Coliforms Isolated from Raw Sewage“, Alton B. Sturtevant and associates, University of
Alabama, investigated the incidence of antibiotic resistant coliforms and fecal coliforms in
raw sewage. They were the first to give examples of pathogenic coliform and fecal coliform,
noting the only difference is in the incubation temperature of the test. By the 1980s, most
studies implied that E. coli was something other than part of the coliform or fecal coliform
group of pathogenic bacteria.
The study revealed  that a few antibiotic resistant coliform are:
E. coli, Citrobacter or the Klebsiella- Enterobacter group
while the 2-3% that make up the antibiotic resistant fecal coliform group are:
E. coli, Citrobacter or the Klebsiella- Enterobacter group.
Today, we know: Citrobacter causes drug-resistant hospital acquired urinary tract infections
among others. Klebsiella pneumoniae is second only to E. coli as a urinary tract pathogen
and a superbug. Of the
thirty-four patients infected at Tisch Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, in
2000, half died.  Enterobacter cause opportunistic infections of the urinary tract as well as
other parts of the body.

According to FDA‘s
Bacteriological Analytical Manual, Chapter 4, The term "coliform" was
coined by the U.S Public Health Service in 1914 to describe a group of gram negative
enteric bacteria that contaminate food and water. They ferment lactose to produce acid and
gas within 48 hours at the optimum growth temperature of 35°C (95°F).    Yet, today, FDA
only looks for that 2-3% of heat stressed bacteria with inhibited growth in water and shellfish
tests. For food, the heat stress is even more growth inhibited at 45.5°C . FDA states, “Fecal
coliform analyses are done at 45.5°C (113.9°F) for food testing, except for water, shellfish
and shellfish harvest water analyses, which use 44.5°C. The fecal coliform group consists
mostly of E. coli but some other enterics such as Klebsiella can also ferment lactose at
these temperatures and therefore, be considered as fecal coliforms.”  By increasing the
temperature of the test from the optimum growth temperature of 35°C to 44.5°C FDA
eliminates most culturable pathogenic bacteria as they become dormant or the growth is
severely inhibited by the higher heat. This would tend to defeat the purpose of the test in
food and water as it indicates the tip of the iceberg for the many pathogens.

Scientists were still trying to understand the difference between the amount of recoverable
bacteria enumerated in the coliform test at  35°C and the fecal coliform test at 44.5°C. In
1979, the study,
“Fecal coliform and E. coli estimates, tip of the iceberg” B. J. Dutka and
associates, Microbiology Laboratories Section, Applied Research Division, National Water
Research Institute, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, used incubation temperatures of 35°,
41.5°, 43°, 44.5°, and 35°C for 4 hours followed by 18 hours at 44.5°C in the search for
fecal coliform and E. coli. Incubation at 44.5°C produced the lowest recovery estimate. Fecal
coliform and E. coli population recovery estimates ranged  from  100%  at 35°C to the very
low level of 5% at 44.5°C.  While finding 5% of  the bacteria surviving the elevated
temperature does indicate bacterial pollution in water, it does little to assure the safety of
food, water, sludge or your health.  Some bacteria may double every 20 minutes at 35°C  to
produce over 1 billion, 073 million, 741 thousand, 824 bacteria within the first half of the
test, while other pathogens may take days or weeks to produce an infectious disease in

Since the fecal coliform test was designed to enumerate fresh human fecal E. coli pollution
in water, EPA has been less than forthcoming about the nature or identity of pathogenic
coliform in sewage sludge or water and especially the heat inhibiting stress effects of the
fecal coliform test on bacteria contaminating sewage sludge or water. In the part 503 sludge
rule, EPA only mentions fecal coliform and Salmonella, implying that both belong to different
families of bacteria. Where in reality they are both members of the Enterobacteriaceae  
family. EPA claims sludge is safe for human contact if the fecal coliform test level of mature
stressed colonies is less than 1,000 CFU (Colony Forming Units) per gram
(0.035% of an
of sludge as it exits the treatment process. We have to go all the way back to 1915
to find the
James Ten Broeces Bowles’, Lederle Laboratories, study which explains that
scientists are counting separate colonies of E. coli.  The 1000 CFU represents the assumed
number of  individual bacteria  placed on the laboratory test media from which the colonies
were grown.

EPA has also been less than factual in its recommendation of lime to reduce pathogens in
USDA's John Walker reported to EPA that liming experiments done at Blue Plains for
USDA Beltsville that raised the pH from 8 to 11 ½  made Salmonella nondetectable, but
when mixed with soil the pH dropped and Salmonella was found at the highest lime level.
Walker later transferred to EPA and
headed the 1994 public relations program to cover up
the “Horror Stories” of sludge victims. The actually dirty work, with Agency funding and a
writer, was delegated to the
Water Environment Federation (WEF) which funds the Water
Environmental Research Foundation (WERF). According to the website, it has funded 300
research reports, valued at over $62 million. Yet, neither Agency, WEF or WERF appear to
have any idea what a coliform is or that any organism in sludge will cause human disease to
exposed victims. This is extremely strange since EPA and WEF, under its previous name
Water Pollution Control Federation, published some of the best studies on health damage.
EPA’s 1986 Total Coliform Rule attempts to make light of finding pathogenic gram negative
bacteria in water.  According to EPA,  
“Coliforms are a group of bacteria, most of which are
harmless. At first glance, it might seem strange that a harmless group of bacteria such as
coliforms could cause such commotion [cause a boil water order]. But like police tape and
chalk outlines, coliform bacteria are often found at the scene of a crime even though they
are not themselves criminals. -- The presence of coliform bacteria in tap water suggests that
the treatment system is not working properly or that there is a problem in the distribution
system that moves treated water from the treatment plant to customer homes.”

While EPA wishes us to consider most coliforms as harmless, thirty are documented disease
causing criminals. The second point EPA would like us to believe that coliform bacteria in a
water system only suggests the treatment system isn’t working or there is a problem with the
distribution system.
In 1986, Stephen C. Edberg and associates from Yale and CDC
investigated elevated total coliform counts in a south central Connecticut water supply
system. In using the fecal coliform test, they found that the elevated coliform counts were
due to biofilm growth and sloughing and not to ongoing fecal contamination.” Two other
major points made were, “Cell cultures grown in the laboratory are more easily inactivated.”
and  “Bacteria that are within particles of feces or other organic matter or that are attached
to activated carbon particles are not inactivated as readily as bacteria that are not
associated with such particulate matter.”  

Both Dr. Dieter (D) Strauch, Universität Hohenheim, Germany (1991) and EPA’s David Lewis
have reported on this phenomenon in sludge. In the Strauch paper, "
Survival of pathogenic
micro-organisms and parasite in extreta, manure and sewage sludge", he reported that: 1)
most pathogenic agents can survive the treatment process; 2) the sewage treatment
process causes some of the pathogenic disease organisms to be absorbed or enclosed in
faecal particles during the treatment process; 3) sewage sludge is rightly described as a
concentration of pathogens; 4) two groups of researchers had found pathogenic disease
organisms will be taken up inside the food crops; 5) Salmonella has survived in forest
stands between 424 and 820 days and 6) “In any case, the agricultural utilization of
hygienically dubious sewage sludge poses a risk for the whole national economy."  In an
interview with Lewis in the mid 1990s, he said “standard test methods underestimate the
number of water repellant contaminates.” Furthermore,  "The problem of pathogen detection
in sludge” he said "is that the sewage treatment process changes the outside crust of the
sludge particles and only the pathogens on the outside of the particles are measured by
standard tests." When ultrasound was used to break open the sludge particles, the trapped
microbes were revealed. It is now an establish fact that the bacteria used in the
treatment process create hard biofilm particles -- sludge.

Christopher H. King and associates, University of Georgia, in a 1988 study state, “The
traditional indicator of bacterial pathogens in drinking water has been the presence of
coliform bacteria. The increasing spontaneous occurrence of coliforms in chlorine treated
drinking water has generated concern because presently accepted standard chlorine levels
are unable to eliminate these and other microorganisms. Paralleling the increases in
reported cases of coliform occurrence in chlorinated drinking water has been an increase in
the outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the United States.” Moreover, they state, “Several
investigators have shown that many coliforms survive standard chlorine residuals as
chlorine injured cells, with subsequent release in distribution systems.” The most intriguing
information was, “Protozoa were shown to survive and grow after exposure to levels of free
chlorine residuals that killed free-living bacteria. Ingested coliforms Escherichia coli,
Citrobacter freundii, Enterobacter agglomerans, Enterobacter cloacae, Klebsiella
pneumoniae, and Klebsiella oxytoca and bacterial pathogens Salmonella typhimurium,
Yersinia enterocolitica, Shigella sonnei, Legionella gormanii, and Campylobacter jejuni had
increased resistance to free chlorine residuals. Bacteria could be cultured from within
treated protozoans well after the time required for 99% inactivation of free-living cells.”
Scientists have shown that the chlorine resistant bacteria that have been ingested by
protozoa are later regurgitated with even more resistance.
FDA‘s Bacteriological Analytical Manual, Chapter 4, disagrees with EPA’s contention that
most coliform were harmless. . FDA states, “Although most strains of E. coli are not
regarded as pathogens, they can be opportunistic pathogens that cause infections in
immunocompromised hosts. There are also pathogenic strains of E. coli that when ingested,
causes gastrointestinal illness in healthy humans The question is why would EPA and USDA
base the  safety of our food, water and health on finding a few pathogenic E. coli growing at
an elevated temperature when an internet search of medical studies show that there are
thirty gram negative  animal, plant, soil and water “coliform” bacterial infectious agents:
Escherichia coli (E. coli); Klebsiella; Citrobacter; Enterobacter; Salmonella; Shigella;
Yersinia; Averyella; Budvicia aquatica; Buttiauxella noackiae; Calymmatobacterium;
Cedecea; Edwardsiella; Ewingella; Hafnia alvei; Kluyvera; Koserella; Leclercia
adecarboxylata; Leminorella; Moellerella wisconsensis; Morganella; Pantoea; Photorhabdus;
Proteus; Providencia; Rahnella aquatilis; Serratia; Tatumella; Xenorhabdus; Yokenella
regensburgei. Five percent of the water quality tests may contain these bacteria,
some of which cause
invasive necrotizing bacterial infections that destroy deep soft tissue in
the body very quickly. The agents responsible for
invasive necrotizing infections have been
referred to in the media as “flesh eating bacteria.” EPA has repeatedly ignored findings of
reputable outside scientists, and a few of its own, who have been warning of the dangerous
pathogens in sludge and water.

Science That Has Been Ignored

Scientists have known for over sixty years that members of the Family Enterobacteriaceae
transfer antibiotic resistant DNA between themselves.
Lederburg and Tatum, Yale
University, reported on finding mutant bacteria resistant to x-radiation, ultraviolet light, and
nitrogen mustard gas in 1946 and
gene recombination in E. coli in 1947.  Bernard Davis,
Public Health Service  reported on penicillin resistant mutants used to create rare
substances in 1948.

It was first reported in 1953 by D. D. Woods, University of Oxford, and
published in 1954,
that viable bacteria could survive with no growth (VBNC) in culture. Dr. Rita R. Colwell,  
Director, National Science Foundation, and associates pick up on this work in a 1982 study
Survival and viability of nonculturable Escherichia coli and Vibrio cholerae in the estuarine
and marine environment.” They  warned, “the usefulness of the coliform and fecal coliform
indices for evaluating water quality for public health purposes may be seriously
compromised, in the light of the finding reported here.” During a
2002 lecture at the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences Colwell reported that
Aeromonas, Campylobacter,
Escherichia coli,
Helicobacter, Klebsiella, Legionella, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Shigella,
Vibrio and Pasteurella had been documented to enter the viable but nonculturable state
(VBNC). By 2005, James D. Oliver, University of North Carolina, reported on a list of sixty-
one bacteria that had been documented to enter the viable but nonculturable state.

In 1957,
S. E. Luria and Jeanne W. Burrous reported on the hybridization of Shigella and E.
coli. They state, “By hybridization we can create hybrids that would be considered as
monstrosities from the standpoint of traditional bacterial classification, such as strains of S.
dysenteriae that promptly ferment lactose (or arabinose or both), of S. flexneri that ferment
lactose (and xylose or rhamnose) and so on.”
Tsutomu Watanabe, Keio University,  was the
first to raise the alarm in 1959 concerning the epidemic spread of antibiotic resistance
Salmonella in Japan.   
Stanley Cohen and associates, Stanford University,  describe the first
method to construct antibiotic resistant plasmids in 1973, which were used to create E.coli
chimera. The following year, the E. coli chimera 0157:H7 with a Shigella virulent gene from
South America claimed its first victim. At about the same time,  
Cohen and Herbert Boyer,
University of California, filed a patent application to create chimera bacteria “which could not
exist in nature.” E. coli is among the highly antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Resistant Bacteria in Sewage and Sludge

Edward B. Marsh, Jr., Harvard Medical School, and David H. Smith,  Children’s Hospital
Medical Center, reported in a 1969 study that two resistant factors could increase ultraviolet
light radiation survival in E. coli by 60%. The study confirms this phenomenon is
independent of the photoreactivation of UV light injured bacteria repairing itself.
Photoreactivation is the response of injured bacteria being exposed to sunlight.

By 1975, scientists began investigating antibiotic resistance in sewage effluent.
Marylyn D.
Cooke, Cawthron Institute, reported in 1976 that 70% of coliform and fecal coliform from a
sewage treatment plant outfall in New Zealand were resistant to two antibiotics.  She also
noted that 45% could transfer the resistant gene to E. coli.

James B. Bell, Environment Canada, found in 1981 that 8.91% of the total coliform and
10.80% of the fecal coliform in raw sewage and treated sewage effluent were multi-drug
resistant. The bacteria studied in the two groups were Escherichia coli, Citrobacter,
Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Aeromonas.

Serious research on antibiotic resistant gene tranfer in wastewater treatment plants  was
published in 1982.
Patrick A. Mach and D. Jay Grimes, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse,
said the values they found “suggest that a significant level of resistance transfer occurs in
wastewater treatment plants in the absence of antibiotics as selective agents.”

When EPA’s  O. K. Scheible and C. D. Bassell investigated Ultraviolet light radiation
disinfection in sewage in 1981, they found that exposure to sunlight after treatment
photoreactivated the bacteria’s injury repair system.
In 1982, EPA’s pathogen expert,
Mark Meckes, researched the effect of ultraviolet light
radiation on antibiotic resistant coliforms in the sludge effluent released from wastewater
treatment. His finding were that eighty-two percent (82%) of three hundred isolates exhibited
resistance. Forty-six percent (46%) could transfer resistance to a nonresistant strain of E.
coli. A major point in Meckes’ study was that using UV irradiation during wastewater
treatment amplified the number of tetracycline and chloramphenicol resistant bacteria in the
sludge effluent. The sludge effluent contains about ½ to 5% solids removed during sewage

Meckes’ issued an ominous warning, which has come true. He said, “When bacteria which
carry transmissible R factors (R+ bacteria) are ingested by a human host, the R-factors may
transfer into commonly occurring bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract. These organisms may
subsequently transfer this resistance to pathogenic organisms--.” Unfortunately, virulent
genes are also transferred thereby creating new more deadly pathogens out of plant and
soil bacteria. There are now thirty coliform documented to cause diseases.
Furthermore, Meckes warned, “Wastewater disinfection is, therefore, the only means
whereby communities can limit the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the water
environment”  However, twenty-eight years later, there is still no economical method of
actually disinfecting wastewater or the sludge effluent.

Sungpyo Kim and associates, Columbia University, confirmed that UV light disinfection
amplified tetracycline resistant bacteria in treated wastewater. The study was published in
2010.  The resulting chimera bacteria carrying antibiotic resistant or virulent DNA from
another bacteria are then released into the environment as treated effluents released to
surface water, recycled water used to irrigate crops and lawns or recharge drinking water
supplies and  sludge used to fertilize grazing land, food crops, parks, forest, school
grounds, home lawns and gardens. The chimera bacteria make their way into ground water
or surface drinking water sources.

Resistant Bacteria in Drinking Water

In 1981, John L. Armstrong, Oregon State University and associates reported that multi-drug
Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Alcaligenes, Moraxella-like group M, and
Acinetobacter were more common in treated drinking water than in the raw water supply. In
1982 follow up study they confirmed that chlorination contributed to the selection of
antibiotic resistance in standard plate count bacteria in drinking water systems. Their further
research in 1984 revealed “Positive correlations between tolerance to high levels of Cu2",
Pb2+, and Zn2+ and multiple antibiotic resistance were noted among bacteria from
distribution waters but not among bacteria from raw waters.”

2009, when Chuanwu Xi and associates,  University of Michigan, investigated antibiotic
resistance in drinking water, they found antibiotic resistant genes and antibiotic resistant
heterotrophic bacteria  in treated finished water and tap water. The antibiotic resistant
bacteria level was greater in tap water than treated finished  water indicating regrowth in the
system. They state, “water distribution systems may serve as an important reservoir for the
spread of antibiotic resistance to opportunistic pathogens.” According to the
School of Biomedical Sciences in Galveston, Texas, “Heterotrophic bacteria, which include
all pathogens, obtain energy from oxidation of organic compounds” What these finding
means is that you may be exposed to chimera or other infectious agents in your home water
supply, or in your food irrigated by recycled water, or fertilized with sludge soil amendments.

E. coli Has Always Been a Potential Killer.

E. coli 0157 is the best known chimera bacteria. Stanley Cohen, Stanford, and Herbert
Boyer, University of California (UC) at San Francisco, filed a patent to create such an animal
in 1974.  In 1975, CDC documented the first E. coli 0157 case was a naval officer at
Oakland, CA. where the Naval Biosciences Laboratory is located on the UC Oakland
Campus.  It then showed up in two 1982 contaminated hamburger outbreaks in Oregon and
Michigan. The most unusual and dangerous feature about 0157 is that the gene to ferment
lactose was removed from E. coli by making it invisible in the Coliform and Fecal coliform
Test. Furthermore, exposure to antibiotics makes it even more virulent.

Our government experts leave the public with the impression that E. coli 0157 is the only
strain we need to be concerned about in food or water. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Other non-0157 serotypes of E coli such as 01:H7, 05:H, 015:H, 0103, 026, O29, O39,
045, 076, 0111, 0113, 0121, O145 produce shiga-like toxins, causing bloody inflammatory
diarrhea, evoking Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)(kidney failure). According to the
Oklahoma Department of Health, enterohemorrhagic Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella,
and Yersinia may cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) , a disease that destroys red
blood cells and causes kidney failure, primarily affecting children. Furthermore, according to
the same source, "Not all cases of HUS are caused by shiga toxin; while uncommon, a
variety of viral and bacterial infections, as well as some cancers, can cause HUS." The
documents show hospital cost for a HUS victim is about $100,000.00. Not only that but
between 8% of HUS victims treated without antibiotics and 50% treated with antibiotics die.

E. coli has been responsible for deadly hospital outbreaks when it was known as Bacillus
coli or B. coli. Strangely enough, it is the general industry scientific consensus that most
enteric bacteria only cause  gastroenteritis. Yet, for over 100 years the medical profession
has documented E. coli outside the gut will cause blood infections, genital related infections,
and  infant meningitis leading to death as well as arthritic bone joint infections and mastitis in
humans and farm animals.

1900, Glasgow physician  Edward McCharg reported on fifty-seven genital infections
during childbirth. Thirty one infections caused by streptococcus and bacillus coli were fatal.

By 1903,
Scientists like William Savage MD were well aware that there were varying
virulence levels between members of Bacillus coli (B. coli). However, he was of the opinion
that only exposure to B. coli from humans was of concern in drinking water.  His wish was to
have a test that separated human B. coli from environmental strains of similar coli forms of

Dr. Savage’s wish was granted in 1904 when
Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch physician,  
developed an elevated temperature test named after him, which is now called the fecal
coliform test. It is still misused to confirm fresh human fecal contamination in drinking water.
It is also misused to access the safety of sewage sludge based on the defining feature of
the test, which is that B. coli and similar bacteria are inhibited in growth or enter a dormant
stage at this elevated temperature. It was mistakenly believed that  B. coli from warm-
blooded animals could be separated from nonpathogenic B. coli from cold-blooded animals
by incubation in a special media at 46°C (114°F) for 24 hours.  By 1933, B. coli was being
referred to as Escherichia’s coli by some scientists.

1935, Anna Dean Dulaney, Ph.D., and I. D. Michelson, M.D. of the  Medical School at the
University of Tennessee, Memphis,  reported the first outbreak of B. coli diarrhea among
new-born infants in the Memphis General Hospital during the winter of 1933-34. The
mortality rate was 47%.

1949, medical researchers investigating coliform urinary tract infections (UTIs) identified
two groups of b. coli, group 1 and group 2. Group 2  included B. aerogenes later renamed  
Aerobacter aerogenes. In 1978, the
Coliform Subcommittee of the Research Committee of
the National Mastitis Council state, "Coliform" is a general term for fermentative gram-
negative bacilli that inhabit the intestinal tract of man and other animals normally without
causing disease and that are contained within the family Enterobacteriaceae." Furthermore,
"Certain members of this group - Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes and cloacae,
Klebsiella, Citrobacter (previously Escherichia freundii) and the paracolon bacteria - have
caused mastitis in cows" Paracolon bacteria were recognized as non-fermenting coliform.

1984 issue of New England Journal of Medicine reported that hospital acquired UTIs
were deadly. R. Platt and associates stated, “Seventy-six patients (25 infected and 51
noninfected) died during hospitalization; death rates were 19 per cent in infected patients
and 4 per cent in noninfected patients”

In 1987,
SHARON H. GUENTHNER and associates, Departments of Internal Medicine and
Pediatrics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, reported that “Gram-negative bacilli (GNB)
cause more than 50% of hospital-acquired infections.” The authors only named nine
pathogenic coliform. Two of the pathogenic gram negative bacteria,  
Acinetobacter and
Pseudomonas species are not considered as part of the coliform group. Both are extremely

Thirty years ago chimera bacteria were considered to be a benign part of the normal human
flora. Over the years they have picked up recombinant antibiotic resistant DNA in treatment
plants, soil or water, genetic engineering laboratories with commercial application approved
by EPA or in the human gut. A few chimera super bugs such as
Staphylococcus, Clostridium and E. coli are now epidemic in the community. They are
popularly known as flesh eating bacteria.

The change in the virulence of the chimera bacteria is reflected in
“Kenneth Todar’s  Online
Textbook of Bacteriology“. He states, “Many of the normal flora are either pathogens or
opportunistic pathogens. -- This includes the pathogens that colonize the upper respiratory
tract such as
Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae
and Staphylococcus aureus, and potential pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella or
Clostridium in the gastrointestinal tract.”  E. coli and Salmonella are the only coliform in this

.Health Effects from Sewage

Most pro-sludge or recycled water use documents usually carries a disclaimer such as this
example put out by the US Compost Council: “Disclaimer: Neither the USCC, nor any of its employees,
contractors, subcontractors or their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or
responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or any third party's use or the results of such use of any information,
equipment, product, or process discussed herein. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by
trade name, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement or recommendation by the

There are very good reasons for the disclaimers. In the 1977 study, “Studies on humans
exposed to airborne sewage sludge”, R. Ryland and associates found 50% of exposed
sewage plant workers suffered acute incidences of fever and eye symptoms. While no
causal relationship was established, it was assumed to be from exposure to

In their 1980 study,
Donald J. Dudley and associates, The University of Texas at San
Antonio, stated,  “The paucity of quantitative data concerning the content of pathogenic and
potentially pathogenic bacteria in sewage sludge has been cited by Carrington as being a
major obstacle in determining the impact pathogens from sludges may have on the
environment. Such sludges could pose a significant health risk through the contamination of
vegetables, surface waters, and groundwaters.”

EPA scientists N.E. Kowal and H.R. Pahren also reported in the 1981 “Journal of Water
Pollution Federation” article
Health Effects Associated with Wastewater Treatment and
Disposal,  that “J. B. Lucas [EPA],  reviewed the “Health Effects of Nonmicrobiologic
Contaminates” of wastewater aerosols, noting that toxic gases and myriad chemicals, both
organic and inorganic, may pose a significant hazard to wastewater treatment workers and
potentially to the general public in surrounding areas.” They also stressed the need for
stringent water quality standards and better purification methods due to the antibiotic
resistant bacteria released to the environment. Kowal and Pahren  also commented on a
recent report noting the increase in antibiotic resistant Salmonella between 1967 and 1975.
They warned that based on data from the USDA Beltsville and Blue Plain compost sites,
endotoxin exposure should be reduced by using safety equipment.

Later in 1981,
Charles F. Russ and William A. Yanko, County Sanitation Districts of Los
Angeles County, stated, “The review of Kowal and Pahren reported that disease
transmission by parasites, bacteria, and viruses in land application of digested and stored
sludges was not a significant problem.” Yet, Russ an Yanko’s compost study found, “Optimal
recoveries in the low bacteria sample occurred at the 21% moisture level at 28 to 36°C
(82.4 - 96.8°F) after a 5-day incubation. The population increased more than four orders of
magnitude under these conditions. The indigenous salmonellae initiating this growth had
survived in a desiccated state for over 1 year prior to providing the proper moisture-
temperature combination for the repopulation to occur. --  Optimal salmonellae recovery in
the high-bacteria samples occurred after 5 days at both 28 and 36°C.”  In the 1988 study
for EPA, “Occurrence of Pathogens in Distribution, Marketing Municipal Sludge’” Yanko
failed to give an incubation temperature. However, he did state there were “significant
increases in bacterial populations, including salmonellae, occurred during subsequent
production of commercial soil amendment products.” Furthermore, “Potentially pathogenic
bacteria, including Salmonella sp., Yersinia enterocolitica and toxigenic E. coli were

C. S. Clark’s 1984 study “
Biological Health Risks Associated with the Composting of
Wastewater"  published in “Journal of Water Pollution Federation” found there were
biological effects on the workers from their exposure to composts such as an excess of
abnormal eye, ear, nose and skin conditions among the compost workers exposed. Nose
and throat cultures revealed
Aspergillus fumigatus colonization.

In the 1987 study by C.S. Clark, University of Cincinnati, “
Health effects associated with
wastewater treatment, disposal, and reuse” published in the  “Journal of Water Pollution
Federation” he stated that the industry remained the most dangerous profession in 1986.
Findings showed one hundred sixty-four New York wastewater treatment workers had
greater levels of  urinary mutagens than water treatment works, although no one knew
exactly what that meant. He also reported fifteen outbreaks of cysticercosis [infection
caused by a pork tapeworm] in Denmark cattle associated with sewage wastewater and

In 1988, A. Kraut, and associates, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, studied the “
effects of solvent exposure on sewage treatment workers” in a New York City sewage
treatment plant. Seventy-four percent complained of lightheadedness, fatigue, increased
sleep requirement, and headache. They found objective abnormalities in neurobehavioral
testing in nine people consistent with solvents and industrial waste exposure.

1996 Susanna Lagoria reported on a cluster of cancer deaths among wastewater
treatment workers in Italy. This could be expected since the 1989 Federal Register Vol. 54,
No.23, Page 5777 of the proposed part 503 sludge rule lists twenty-one cancer causing
agents in sewage sludge. Five are listed as causing cancer by inhalation. On page 5829,
there is also a list of 25 disease causing organisms in sewage sludge. According to EPA, the
only two that will actually cause a serious disease are Poliovirus and Vibrio.  Needless to say
EPA removed this information from the final part 503.

Australia recognized the danger to veterans in the  “Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986” when
it released the 1997 “
Statement of Principles concerning Extrinsic  Allergic Alveolitis”. It
specifically lists  “Sewage sludge contaminated with micro-organisms -- Fertilizer
contaminated with micro-organisms, and Compost dust contaminated with micro-organisms”
as the cause of extrinsic allergic alveoli which is an inflammation of the lungs
(hypersensitivity pneumonitis -- much like COPD) with a restrictive pattern of respiratory
function.  The
Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Department refers to Extrinsic  
Allergic Alveolitis as Sewage Sludge Disease, Farmers Lung,  Hot tub lung, Animal handlers'
lung, etc.

In 1999,  Ray Singer, neuropsychologist,  documented “
Neurotoxicity from Municipal Sewage
Sludge”.  He found that nine members of the Zander family in Washington State suffered
neurological damage. Their air and water was contaminated from a nearby sludge disposal
site. The
Zanders were the first family documented to have been sacrificed for a cheap
method of sludge disposal.

David L Lewis (EPA) and associates investigated staphylococcal infections in
neighbors near sludge sites in 2002,  they found 25% of the people living near ten sludge
sites in the United States and Canada were infected with staphylococcus.   Other complaints
included skin rashes, burning of the eyes, throat, and lungs. Two deaths of children caused
by septicaemia and pneumonia were connected to exposure at sludge sites in New
Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

L.A. Smit, and  associates of Utrecht University, in a 2005 study found endotoxin exposure
was most likely responsible for "lower respiratory and skin symptoms" and "flu-like and
systemic symptoms" in sewage plant workers in the Netherlands

Sadik Khuder and associates, University of Toledo,  in their 2007 study entitled “
Survey of Residents Living Near Farm Fields Permitted to Receive Biosolids” found that
residents living near a biosolids [sludge] disposal site had “excessive secretion of tears,
abdominal bloating, jaundice, skin ulcer, dehydration, weight loss, and general weakness”
They say, “We observed an association between respiratory, gastrointestinal, and general
symptoms linked with infectious diseases and residence in homes near farm fields permitted
to receive Class B biosolids.” According to CDC, “Many different viruses can cause
gastroenteritis, including rotaviruses, noroviruses, adenoviruses,type 40 or 41, sapoviruses,
and astroviruses. Viral gastroenteritis is not caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella or
Escherichia coli) or parasites (such as Giardia), or by medications or other medical
conditions, although the symptoms may be similar.”

Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., and Claudia Steiner’s, M.D., M.P.H., Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality, statistical brief on  Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project “
with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in U.S. Hospitals, 1993–2005”,
unintentionally illustrated the parallel between sludge use and increased hospital stays
when they state, “In 1993, there were fewer than 2,000 MRSA infections recorded in U.S.
hospitals. --  In 2005, there were about 368,600 cases of MRSA infection in U.S. hospitals, a
figure that increased by 30 percent after 2004, more than tripled after 2000, and increased
nearly tenfold after 1995.”

While the focus has been on bacteria, we should mention two other items that relate to
health: EPA and its partners attempt to silence Agency scientists; and downplay the viruses
that pass through treatment plants. What has been most difficult to watch over the past 20
years is the Agency and its industry partners attacking and attempting to destroy the
character and creditability of Agency scientists such as
William Sanjour, Hugh Kaufman and
David Lewis who spoke out against sludge use because, by Congressional definition, it is a
hazardous waste due to its chemical and infectious characteristics. As a microbiologist,
Lewis was most dangerous to the sludge program with his studies: 1)
A High-Level
Disinfection Standard for Land-Applied Sewage Sludges (Biosolids); 2) Interactions of
pathogens and irritant chemicals in land-applied sewage sludges (biosolids): and 3) the
“The Journal of Commerce” article “
SLUDGE MAGIC AT EPA“. The weight of the Agency
and its industry partners was brought to bare on him in an effort to destroy his credibility,
run him out of the Agency, and prevent him from future employment in his field.

The second item is viruses passing through treatment plants. They are a major concern
because they don‘t show up in the tests and more easily survive disinfection. Of particular
concern are viruses such as the
adenovirus which is known to cause obesity in humans.  
According to
Dr. Richard L. Atkinson, Director, Obetech Obesity Research Center, “The
growing body of evidence demonstrating that viruses produce human obesity supports the
concept that at least some of the worldwide epidemic of obesity in the past 25 years is due
to viral infections.”  Also in
2009, M. Kutlesa and associates, University Hospital for
Infectious Diseases, Zagreb, Croatia, reported on a case of childhood arterial ischemic
stroke in 4-year-old boy. They note that while HIV and
varicella zoster virus is consistently
associated with arterial ischemic stroke, this is the first documented case of stroke involving

EPA has ignored the scientific  information that was  available on fatal E. coli infections since
1900, as well as the presence of dangerous antibiotic resistant pathogens, which are viable
but nonculturable in treated sewage sludge, sewage effluent, recycled water, sludge and
drinking water. EPA has ignored the warnings of scientists since the early 1970s on through
1993 (when EPA released the Part 503 sludge rule).  Scientists are still doing similar studies
and finding similar results, except for most of those employed by EPA and it‘s industry
partners. Yet federal and state agencies still contend that the presence of Escherichia coli
or coliforms (bacterial forms similar to E. coli) in water and fecal coliform in sewage sludge
are only indicators that disease causing organisms may also be present. Apparently, EPA
administrators and state environmental authorities see no conflict with the truth in misusing
a test designed to reveal only 2-3% of heat inhibited pathogenic members of
Enterobacteriaceae family to claim sludge is a safe product or allowing the reporting of full
bacterial colonies as individual bacteria colony forming units.

It is time we demand honesty from EPA and its partners in their dealings with the farmers
and homeowners who receive the contaminated sludge as a fertilizer and soil amendment or
who use recycled water. There are environmental laws in place to protect the public health,
food supply and water. Yet, Congress has allowed EPA’s policy to override the laws. The
only protection available in the near future to protect some of the public is Common Law.