Petitioners seek EPA ban on biosolids land application

Group cites presence of chemicals and metals in biosolids that have been implicated as contributors to autism

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The Age of Autism website is asking people to use the Obama Administration’s “We the People” website to petition the U.S. EPA to ban land application of biosolids. The group cites the resignation of EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, and the appointment of a replacement, as “a golden opportunity” to press the issue.

Anyone who knows a family whose child has autism is in sympathy with this organization’s aims to help address and mitigate potential causes of the disorder. Yet here is another case in which the science behind the alleged risk appears suspect. The website includes a message from researchers about the issue that purports to make a connection between biosolids and autism. You can read the entire entry at http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/01/ask-white-house-epa-to-ban-land-application-of-sewage-sludge-biosolids.html.


It states in part: “Scientists investigating the role environmental pollutants play in triggering autism in genetically susceptible children are focused on traces of a few heavy metals and organic chemicals from automobiles, coal-fired plants, agricultural practices and other sources.

”These pollutants are typically present in air, water, and food products in the low parts-per-trillion range. At the same time, every large municipality throughout the industrialized world permits chemical wastes to be discharged into sewer systems where complex mixtures containing hundreds of thousands of different kinds of fat-soluble heavy metals and toxic organic molecules are concentrated in sewage sludge.

“Most sewage sludge is simply treated with lime to reduce pathogen levels and odors and then spread on farms, forests, golf-courses, school playgrounds and other public and private lands as biosolids. The same heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals linked to autism in traditional environmental studies are present in biosolids at high parts-per-million (ppm) levels...”

The clear message is that clean-water agencies that land-apply biosolids need to be prepared to defend the practice by referring to sound science about the benefits of and issues surrounding the practice.



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