Researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have raised questions about the safety of using treated sewage as fertilizers. Sludge often contains high levels of toxic chemicals called BDEs according to the research published in the journal Nature. Sludge is the byproduct of sewage treatment – the processing of human excrement and household waste.

Sludge samples examined by the research team typically contained 1 to 2 parts of BDEs per million of sludge, which is high. The chemicals are more often measured in parts per billion. Medical researchers suspect BDEs may impair the immune and endocrine systems and delay intellectual and physical development. BDEs are used to make foam seat cushions fire-resistant and are chemically similar to PCB, DDT and dioxin, pollutants considered lethal threats to people and animals. DDT and PCBs were banned in the United States in the 1970s. Researchers also found BDEs in hundreds of fish across Virginia, the possible result of the chemicals seeping into waterways from the fields.

The above information was taken from the Free Lance STAR

Additional information can be obtained at Virginia Institute of Marine Science: www.vims.edu

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