Biosolids Classroom

What are biosolids?

Biosolids are NOT raw sewage. Biosolids are nutrient-rich organic materials derived from wastewater solids that have been treated and stabilized. Only those biosolids that meet strict quality standards for pollutants, pathogens and vector attraction may be land-applied for beneficial purposes. The quality of biosolids is assured through product testing and monitoring to verify that requirements are met.

Who reegulates and inspects biosolids land application sites?

Land application of biosolids, whether it is on agricultural land or mine sites, is regulated by the state environmental agencies. Application sites (and treatment facilities) are also inspected by state officials to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations.

Is the use of biosolids at application sites to my health?

There have been NO documented adverse health effects due to the land application of biosolids confirmed by scientific investigation. Biosolids are treated to reduce or eliminate pathogens; Class B biosolids generally have lower pathogen levels than most untreated manure. By regulation, biosolids must be applied according to agronomic or otherwise approved rate, with setbacks (buffers) and other restrictions (i.e. limits on public access). Following those restrictions, USEPA and other researchers have concluded that biosolids applied to soils in accordance with regulations present minimal risks to human health and the environment.

Will the spreading or incorporation of biosolids at application sites release airborne contaminants?

A number of scientific studies report that the land application does NOT result in airborne release of bacterial pathogens or biological agents. One study looking at human and animal health on farms concluded that the risks of respiratory or digestive illness, as well as general symptoms, were not significantly different between the farms receiving biosolids and farms not receiving biosolids. The absence of observed human or animal health effects was due to the controlled application practices that were in accordance with established USEPA requirements.

Will the land application of biosolids at this mine site contaminate local surface water or pollute groundwater?

The practice of land application of biosolids has been permitted by state agencies for nearly 30 years. State officials do not report any adverse water quality impacts on surface or groundwater. At land reclamation sites, approved soil erosion control and nutrient management plans must be implemented, providing for best management practices at participating sites. When applied according to state and federal regulations, biosolids pose little or no potential risk to groundwater quality.

Will land application at this site affect my property value?

Nowhere in the mid-Atlantic region has been found documentation from the real estate industry that indicates a negative impact of land values due to the land application of biosolids. Recent data have shown that successful land reclamation projects using biosolids have contributed to raising land values at and around the surface mine sites.

To learn more, find out what the EPA has to say about biosolids.

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