Recycling human effluent, there are safe ways and unsafe ways.

Previously on RethinkAg, I posted about composting human waste. Composted biosolids have been used safely in Athens, GA. A recent study however said the same cannot be said about uncomposted sludge. The report was run by the University of North Carolina’s Department of Epidemiology.

More than half of the people interviewed reported acute symptoms such as burning eyes, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after sludge had been sprayed or spread. Neighbors of fields where industrial swine operations spray waste have reported similar symptoms.

“Study participants told us that the onset of the symptoms occurred while the sludge was being applied or soon after,” says Amy Lowman, MPH, research associate in epidemiology, and the study’s first author. “These were not one-time incidents, either. Respondents reported these illnesses occurring several times, and always after treated sludge was applied to the nearby farmland.”

These wastes are a huge reservoir of nutrients that can be used safely, if composted. It is my hope that these results will encourage more people to look into the work that has been done down in Athens, to safely divert these nutrients away from our surface waters and fisheries onto agricultural lands where these nutrients belong.

Read the rest of the article in the Mountain Xpress:


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