There are many misconceptions about Biosolids
The most common misconception is that biosolids are just the dirty remains of “sludge water” that will make us sick if we ingest them – but this is not at all accurate! There are four types of pathogenic organisms (disease causing) that can be present in biosolids. However, it is important to note that these organisms are typically found in almost all types of manure or other nutrient supplements and are not limited to biosolids. These four pathogenic organisms are:
- Helminthes (parasitic worms)
Don’t panic! Most of these are destroyed through the treatment and digestion process at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Those remaining are diminished over time as heat, sunlight, desiccation and other microorganisms all destroy pathogens that may be present. These risks are all very similar to those of other manures, but biosolids have the advantage of being monitored much more strictly. Unlike any other type of manure, biosolids are sampled and analyzed regularly for potential issues. Municipalities are responsible for testing, by certified laboratories, in accordance with nutrient management regulations.
The Standards Check
Legal use of biosolids in Canada must adhere to specific standards checks.
- Quality of biosolids requirement: biosolids themselves must meet specific requirements of composition ensuring their benefits and eliminating health risks
- Suitable receiving sites: farm land is of proper soil composition and topography
- Suitable application quantities: fertilizer is distributed over farm land accurately according to crop requirements
- Geographic requirements: proximity to homes, wells, watercourses or other sensitive features are adequate to ensure there is no disturbance to the surrounding environment
With all of these checks and balances in place, it is not hard to believe that there are presently no documented cases of adverse effects of biosolids when they are being used properly. With so many parties ensuring the safety of biosolids use, along with much of the scientific data about the benefits of biosolids, feel confident that biosolids are a benefit to our agricultural communities and our health.