Sewage Sludge Disposal on Agricultural Land

CED-77-78: Published: May 23, 1977. Publicly Released: May 23, 1977.

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In reviewing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) management of sewage sludge disposal systems in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York-New Jersey areas, a potentially hazardous situation was identified.

Sewage sludge products containing high amounts of cadmium were sold or given away to the public. Cadmium is a toxic metal which has been classified as a suspected carcinogen. In an EPA bulletin, recommendations were made that projects using sludge on croplands should conform to limitations recommended by the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Agriculture. Sewage sludge products with cadmium levels substantially higher than recommended were found to be available for agricultural use without cautioning labels. Municipalities are becoming increasingly interested in the land application of sludge. Although legislation may require increased regulation, immediate action is necessary.

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