Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Not One to Freak Out But... Biosolids as Fertilizer?!

If you know me then you know that I'm not a rabble rouser. I let others fight for my freedoms and rights. I never burned my bra, but am grateful for all those suffragettes who did that and more. I only write about things that are wonderful to me and leave the ranting to others, no matter how worthy the cause.

I write about my favorite local farmers and other food purveyors and support them by shopping first at farmers markets and local shops that support them too.

I belong to Slow Food Nova Scotia and while a "quiet member", I certainly keep abreast of celebrations, events, opportunities and challenges in the region.

Positive as I am, I had to share this quote from SFNS recent newsletter: RE managment of Biosolids in N.S. & Canada. This is NOT good news.

"The NS Federation of Agriculture is including in its Policy Statement that farmers recognize the use of non-agricultural waste products (biosolids) as having "benefits" in agriculture production when managed under the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) and provincial guidelines".

This Policy will be brought forward at the NSFA's Annual Meeting on November 25th for approval. ... the sludge industry has been busy lobbying the Canadian Horticultural Council to change their position that prohibits the use of treated sewage sludge on Canadian produce by farmers holding an On Farm Food Safety/GAP Program certification.

Should such a policy change occur, even produce available through the major grocery outlets could be grown using biosolids. Consumers will no longer have the same level of assurance for safety in Canadian grown produce. As of this date, the Canadian Horticultural Council has not yet rendered its decision.

In short, our government wants to standardized how biosolids are managed across Canada and how they are promoted to the public. In an attempt to widely disseminate biosolids into our food chain (and get rid of the unwanted substance) our government plans to mix biosolids with topsoil or kitchen waste compost and call it an "organic soil amendment" and sell it to unsuspecting consumers for use in their vegetable or flower gardens.

The term "organic" soil amendment implies that the product is suitable for organic farming when it is not. Consumers will not likely be informed, via labelling, of the potential list of contaminants contained within this "fertilizer" mix and public perceptions about certified organic status could be diminished if consumers are confused about organic standards."

Some other interesting and equally scary information:

"660,000 dry tonnes of biosolids are generated each year in Canada. This amount is expected to increase because of stringent waste water treatment requirements.

Based on the guidelines for acceptable levels of heavy metals in parts per million (mg/Kg) in the N.S. Guidelines for Biosolids Management, this would be equivalent to 22,000 truckloads (@ 30 tonnes each truckload).

According to the NS standards for Class A biosolids, in each 30 tonne truckload of biosolids has 9.9 lbs of Lead (neurotoxin). Thus, 22,000 truckloads = 217,800 lbs of Lead spread each year over Canadian soils - most of it onto agricultural land. (From the HRM N-Viro plant, 1000 truckloads of biosolids are spread on our soils which amounts to almost 10,000 lbs of lead being put into our rural environment).

Here are more facts (based on allowable concentrations as per N.S.

Arsenic = 0.9 lbs per truckload x 1000 truckloads = 900 lbs in N.S. and 19,800 lbs in Canada (carcinogen)

Cadmium = 90 grams per truckload x 1000 = 200 lbs in N.S. and 4,360 lbs in Canada (carcinogen)Mercury = 24 grams per truckload x 1000 = 53 lbs in N.S. and 1, 160 lbs in Canada (neurotoxin)

Copper = 26 lbs per truckload x 1000 = 26,000 lbs in N.S. and 581,000 lbs in Canada (plant and soil toxicity)

Zinc - 46 lbs per truckload x 1000 = 46,000 lbs in N.S. and 1, 012,000 lbs in Canada (plant and soil toxicity)

Nickel = 4.1 lbs per truckload x 1000 = 4,100 lbs in N.S. and 90,200 lbs in Canada (plant toxicity)

Molybedenum = 0.3 lbs per truckload x 1000 = 300 lbs in Nova Scdotia and 7,260 lbs in Canada (livestock toxicity)

660,000 tonnes of biosolids also includes the following amounts of these substances (From the 2010 Federal Study on Canadian Biosolids - concentrations of the Halifax N-Viro product):

Triclosan = 8,886 lbs being spread over Canadian soils (Significant contributor of antibiotic resistance)

Triclocarban = 2,309 lbs in Canada (same as triclosan)Carbamazepine = 145 lbs in Canada (Anti-convulsant)

Bisphenol A = 1,147 lbs in Canada (Canada's newest toxic substance and endocrine disrupter) And, these substances represent just a few of all potential contaminants that are being spread into our environment."

If you are interested in finding out more about this and what you can do to have your voice heard, contact the office of Biosolids & Wastewater CaucusNova Scotia Environmental Network and if you don't live in Nova Scotia, check out what's going on in your neighborhood.


Ty'sMommy said...

THAT is disgusting. Haven't we learned anything at all about the risks involved in this type of thing?

Ruth Daniels said...

Unfortunately not, which is why we should all put pressure on our politicians to make sure it doesn't happen.

Joanne said...

Ugh this is so HORRIBLE! Why do people persist in doing things like this. ARRGHH.