Traditionally, agricultural societies used composted human waste as good fertilizer. With the industrial revolution people moved to congested cities, far from farmland. Then, untreated sewage and all sorts of toxic by-products from the new industries were mixed and piped together into rivers and oceans—it was the cheapest thing to do. However, the resulting mixtures are truly toxic and not usable:

Biological wastes should have been recycled through a system that returned their nutrients to the soil, and businesses should have been required to separately treat their chemical wastes on-site so that they could be contained and reused within the industries from which they came.

At present, sewage treatment plants produce concentrated sludge, which contains organic nutrients plus the heavy metals and other toxic substances from industry. Sludge typically contains:

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs);
Chlorinated pesticides—DDT, dieldrin, 2,4,5-T, 2,4,D;
Chlorinated compounds such as dioxins;
Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons;
Heavy metals—arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury;
Miscellaneous—asbestos, petroleum products, industrial solvents.

Also, "the full extent of the radioactive contamination of sewage sludge . . . is unknown."

The sludge from the Milwaukee sewage treatment plant has been sold for seventy years as "Milorganite" with a warning not to use it when growing food. Unforturnately, now about twenty-eight million pounds of sludge is produced every year and we are being told by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the public relations industry that this sludge is excellent fertilizer for farmers to use when growing our food.

*Stauber, John, and Sheldon Rampton, Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry, 1995, Common Courage Press, Box 702, Monroe, Maine 04951, solf cover, $16.95. The authors did not realize how appropriate their tentative title was until they were contacted by a public relations executive who tried to get them to change the title because her company was trying to persuade the public that toxic sludge is excellent fertilizer.

Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXI, No. 2, Spring 1996, page 6.