Interactions of pathogens and irritant chemicals in land-applied sewage sludges (biosolids)

Lewis, David L.; Gattie, David K.; Novak, Marc E.; Sanchez, Susan; Pumphrey, Charles
January 2002
BMC Public Health;2002, Vol. 2 Issue 1, p11
Academic Journal
Background: Fertilisation of land with processed sewage sludges, which often contain low levels of pathogens, endotoxins, and trace amounts of industrial and household chemicals, has become common practice in Western Europe, the US, and Canada. Local governments, however, are increasingly restricting or banning the practice in response to residents reporting adverse health effects. These self-reported illnesses have not been studied and methods for assessing exposures of residential communities to contaminants from processed sewage sludges need to be developed. Methods: To describe and document adverse effects reported by residents, 48 individuals at ten sites in the US and Canada were questioned about their environmental exposures and symptoms. Information was obtained on five additional cases where an outbreak of staphylococcal infections occurred near a land application site in Robesonia, PA. Medical records were reviewed in cases involving hospitalisation or other medical treatment. Since most complaints were associated with airborne contaminants, an air dispersion model was used as a means for potentially ruling out exposure to sludge as the cause of adverse effects. Results: Affected residents lived within approximately 1 km of land application sites and generally complained of irritation (e.g., skin rashes and burning of the eyes, throat, and lungs) after exposure to winds blowing from treated fields. A prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus infections of the skin and respiratory tract was found. Approximately 1 in 4 of 54 individuals were infected, including 2 mortalities (septicaemia, pneumonia). This result was consistent with the prevalence of S. aureus infections accompanying diaper rashes in which the organism, which is commonly found in the lower human colon, tends to invade irritated or inflamed tissue. Conclusions: When assessing public health risks from applying sewage sludges in residential areas, potential interactions of chemical contaminants with low levels of pathogens should be considered. An increased risk of infection may occur when allergic and non-allergic reactions to endotoxins and other chemical components irritate skin and mucus membranes and thereby compromise normal barriers to infection.


Related Articles

  • Concentrations of Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn in tropical soils amended with sewage sludge and composted sewage sludge. Nogueirol, Roberta; Melo, Wanderley; Bertoncini, Edna; Alleoni, Luís // Environmental Monitoring & Assessment;Apr2013, Vol. 185 Issue 4, p2929 

    Sewage sludge may be used as an agricultural fertilizer, but the practice has been criticized because sludge may contain trace elements and pathogens. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of total and pseudototal extractants of Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn, and to compare the results...

  • REGROWTH OF FAECAL COLIFORMS AND SALMONELLAE IN STORED BIOSOLIDS AND SOIL AMENDED WITH BIOSOLIDS. Gibbs, R. A.; Hu, C. J.; Ho, G. E.; Unkovich, I. // Water Science & Technology;1997, Vol. 35 Issue 11/12, p269 

    Stabilised wastewater sludge (biosolids) has beneficial re-use properties but these are limited by the presence of human pathogens. In this study soil amendment with biosolids and storage of biosolids prior to re-use were examined as disposal and treatment options. In a soil amendment trial...

  • The incidence of cross infections in Imam Reza hospital, Mashhad, Iran. Javanbakht, A.; Askari, E.; Danesh, L.; Moghadas, N.; Mostafavi, I.; NaderNasab, M. // Iranian Journal of Microbiology;Dec2012, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p177 

    Background and Objectives: Cross Infections (CIs) are considered as a major public health problem worldwide. They cause delay in recovery, increased mortality and morbidity. The purpose of this study is to report the incidence of CIs in our teaching hospital during a 23-month period. Materials...

  • Characterisation and conditioning of Fenton sludges issued from wastewater treatment. Ramírez Zamora, R. M.; Orta de Velásquez, M. T.; Durán Moreno, A.; Malpica de la Torre, J. // Water Science & Technology;2002, Vol. 46 Issue 10, p43 

    Characterisation tests were conducted to determine the feasibility of land application of the sludges produced in wastewater treatment by means of Fenton's Reagent. Physicochemical and microbiological parameters of Fenton sludges were compared to the values obtained for raw alum sludges. The...

  • Special Report: New C. diff strain hits communities.  // Hospital Infection Control;Feb2007, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p13 

    The article offers information on the transmission of Clostridium difficile. The ribotype 027 strain can have 20 times the toxins as typical strains and has already caused outbreaks among hospital patients. There is a concern that it is becoming established as a community pathogen, possibly even...

  • Q & A on largest patient look-back effort in history.  // Hospital Infection Control;Apr2008, Vol. 35 Issue 4, p40 

    The article presents questions and answers issued by the Southern Nevada Health District after launching the largest look-back effort in history by contacting 40,000 patients potentially exposed to bloodborne pathogens in a Las Vegas, Nevada endoscopy clinic. These include responses to questions...

  • Assessment of risk to human health associated with outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in poultry- Situation as a 14 May 2004.  // Weekly Epidemiological Record;5/21/2004, Vol. 79 Issue 21, p203 

    The article throws light on the assessment of risk to human health associated with outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in poultry. Implications of these events for human health are twofold. First, the H5N1 strain has demonstrated its capacity to infect humans and cause severe...

  • Formigas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) urbanas em um hospital no município de Luz, Estado de Minas Gerais. Fonseca, Alysson Rodrigo; Batista, Demetrio Rangel; do Amaral, Deusilene Pereira; Campos, Renata Bernardes Faria; Silva, Cláudio Gonçalves // Acta Scientiarum: Health Sciences;Jan-Jun2010, Vol. 32 Issue 1, p29 

    Urban ants, when present in hospital environments, can be a potential danger to public health, because they can carry pathogenic organisms and are possibly directly associated with the hospital cross infection problem. During a one-year period, collections were carried out, using non-toxic baits...

  • Enteric Bacteria Associated with Farmed Freshwater Fish and its Culture Environment in Kerala, India. Surendaraj, A.; Sabeena Farvin, K. H.; Yathavamoorthi, R.; Thampuran, N. // Research Journal of Microbiology;2009, Vol. 4 Issue 9, p334 

    A study was designed to investigate the enteric bacterial population associated with farmed freshwater fish and its environment limnological quality of carp farm and the existing association between these parameters, Enteric indicator bacterial counts were determined following the United Stales...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics