Toxic Sludge -- Still Not Good For You!

Seven years ago our book, Toxic Sludge Is Good For You, broke the story of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was disposing of toxic sewage sludge by calling it "biosolids, a natural organic fertilizer," and allowing it to be dumped on farmland across the US. Today 70% of the nation's toxic sewage sludge is spread on cropland, a major environmental scandal and a threat to public health. Reuters reports that a National Academy of Sciences panel, led by Thomas Burke of Johns Hopkins University's department of health policy, urged the EPA to assess the risks from sludge. "There is a serious lack of health-related information about populations exposed to treated sewage sludge," Burke said. Meanwhile EPA microbiologist David Lewis, who has broken ranks with the agency's official pro-sludge position, has published a study of people living near areas where sewage sludge is used as fertilizer, showing that they are often "plagued with infections" and symptoms including burning eyes, burning lungs, skin rashes and other symptoms of chemical irritation. Notwithstanding the courage of whistleblowers like Lewis, however, asking the EPA to investigate sewage sludge is like asking Enron to investigate itself. As citizen activists like Jim Bynum have proven, the EPA has been the driving force behind dumping toxic sludge on farmland and then harassing and belittling victims of sludge poisoning.