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Is Your Food Grown on Sewage?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

Story at-a-glance -

  • Sewage sludge, a waste product that comes from wastewater treatment facilities, is widely applied to agricultural fields as a fertilizer
  • The EPA identified 352 pollutants in biosolids including metals, pharmaceuticals and flame retardants
  • In a report from the U.S. Office of Inspector General, it’s concluded that the EPA is unable to assess the impact of the hundreds of unregulated pollutants applied to land via biosolids on human health and the environment
  • When researchers evaluated 31 fields that had applications of sewage sludge, microplastics were found in the samples, with levels increasing on fields with higher rates of sludge applications
  • While the EPA claims sewage sludge is safe, the long-term effects of sewage sludge on human health and the environment are unknown

If you've never heard of sewage sludge — a term often used interchangeably with biosolids — you're in for a surprise, as this waste product, which is every bit as unappealing as it sounds, is applied to farmland, gardens, schoolyards, lawns and more across the U.S. The food you eat may very well have come from land treated with sewage sludge, which could have implications for human health and the environment.

What exactly is sewage sludge? When wastewater and stormwater enter wastewater treatment facilities, the solid and liquid waste are separated. The solids are "digested" using bacteria, treated, dried and then sent to landfills or used for agricultural purposes as "fertilizer."

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