Sewage sludge compost controversy?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by Exact Rototilling, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Just wondering what the thoughts are here on Lawnsite re: this issue. I've done a fair amount of Google searches on the topic. There seems to be a growing movement for the public to ask garden centers and retail centers to stop carrying these products due to health concerns.

    I have used both of these products on customers lawns for topdressing after over-seeding or lawn installation but I prefer the EKO product hands down since it has less wood product mixed in and frankly is darker and has more nutrients.

    The Coeur d' Green really stunk bad when it was in the trailer. EKO doesn't smell bad at all and frankly has a pleasant aroma to it. Both products are epa "A" rated.
  2. Mowingman

    Mowingman LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 4,697

    Well, the people that think it is a hazard are NUTS. If done correctly, the sludge will be non hazardous when it comes out of the sewage plant. I would not eat it, but you could roll around in it and it would not harm you. Then, when mixed with other ingredients, it is composted. In the composting stage, it will get hot enough to kill off any remaining germs. In fact, it can get so hot it will catch on fire.
    So, I say again, those people are NUTS.
  3. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,003

    EPA Grade A Biosolids are fine to use for a good source of organic matter.
    It is pathogen free and low in heavy metals. Some people are worried about household chemicals and pharmaceuticals being present. The EPA is beginning to study this. I'm sure some contaminants will be found and then millions of dollars will be spent on huge research projects that will take years to complete. The differences of opinion will still continue.

    Much easier and wiser to stop using so many chemicals & drugs in our everyday lives. And use Grade A Biosolids as a sustainable resource for fertilizer.
  4. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Yea, what he said ^
  5. Exact Rototilling

    Exact Rototilling LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,378

    Thanks for the input thus far.

    Yes I would roll around in the stuff any day of the week over using a 2-4-D product even according to manufactures instructions. Instruction or not even just being downwind of a 2-4-D applicator makes me very sick after being exposed to it.

    I have been telling my customers it is ok fine to use [treated compost sludge] on a lawns etc. but I fully admit I have been telling them I would not use it on a vegetable garden or for other edibles due to the contraversy on the issue.

    Here is a fairly typical link on the against camp with many links to the same:
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2009
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    I would also recommend the same, controversy or not.

    I don't believe it is certified for organic farming either. There is not a single product on the OMRI list that contains it (searching for biosolid, sewage, sewage sludge, etc.. all turned up empty), and Milorganite, probably the best known bagged source, is not OMRI certified or even listed.

    Nothing wrong with using it on the landscape though.
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    If it typically passes through a human it should be harmless to grass. My only other concern is what is 'thrown out' by dumping it in the toilet.

    More urban legend than reality in everything I've heard about Milorganite, but it is enough to scare off people. Perception - makes sales.
  8. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    Kiril and Smallaxe,
    If these materials are stored at the usual 130 degree mark just as compost materials, would they not be free of possible harmfull human materials.?? I can understand that chemicals will stay within the material if not neutralized out with some sort of activated charcoal enhancements. Should this material be filtered through the activated charcoals?
    A company nearby out in the country is harvesting sewer sludge from area water treatment fascilities, yet they said they aren't intending on selling the material until it has been tested and bagged for resale. What are some things to be aware of and exactly what is the OMRI? Is it the organic matter research institute? If so, it sounds a little vague and too misleading as another fake institution to make money!
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    OMRI ->

    As far as the safety of the material, if it is composted correctly, pathogens should not be a problem providing it is handled correctly. It is all the other "crap" that gets concentrated during the treatment process which does not get decomposed which is a concern. Heavy metals is what has been given the most attention in that past, but more recently all the "other" stuff that ends up in the sewage waste stream. A little reading for you.

    Either way, I wouldn't hesitate to use it for general landscape purposes providing you know the potential risks and use it responsibly. However when it comes to growing food, I do hesitate.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I read a little about the actual process, it is cooked to very high temps. It has now an added process of removing heavy metals and other toxins.
    How that is actually done I don't know. The EPA has ok'd it.

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