Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production

Committee on the Use of Treated Municipal Wastewater Effluents and Sludge in the Production of Crops for Human Consumption

Water Science and Technology Board

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1996



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--> Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production Committee on the Use of Treated Municipal Wastewater Effluents and Sludge in the Production of Crops for Human Consumption Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1996

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--> NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Grant No. CX820717-01-0, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Grant No. 3-FG-81-19140, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service Grant No. 59-0700-4-067, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Water Research Institute, Water Environment Research Foundation, Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, National Food Processors Association, Eastern Municipal Water District in California, Metropolitan Water Districts of Southern California, Bio Gro Division of Wheelabrator Water Technologies, and N-Viro International Corporation. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 96-67381 International Standard Book Number 0-309-05479-6 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) B-720 Copyright © 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Cover depicts a farm field with a specialized truck for injecting sludge into the soil. A wastewater treatment plant is in the background. Art by Ellen Hill-Godfrey of Kensington, Maryland.

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--> Committee on the Use of Treated Municipal Wastewater Effluents and Sludge in the Production of Crops for Human Consumption ALBERT L. PAGE, Chair, University of California, Riverside ABATENI AYANABA, Del Monte Foods, Walnut Creek, California MICHAEL S. BARAM, Boston University Law School, Massachusetts GARY W. BARRETT, University of Georgia, Athens WILLIAM G. BOGGESS, Oregon State University, Corvallis ANDREW CHANG, University of California, Riverside ROBERT C. COOPER, BioVir Laboratories, Inc., Benicia, California RICHARD I. DICK, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York STEPHEN P. GRAEF, Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority, Greenville, South Carolina THOMAS E. LONG, Washington State Department of Health, Olympia CATHERINE ST. HILAIRE, Hershey Foods Corporation, Hershey, Pennsylvania JOANN SILVERSTEIN, University of Colorado, Boulder SARAH CLARK STUART, Consultant, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PAUL E. WAGGONER, The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station, New Haven Staff GARY KRAUSS, Study Director MARY BETH MORRIS, Senior Project Assistant

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--> Water Science and Technology Board DAVID L. FREYBERG, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California BRUCE E. RITTMANN, Vice Chair, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois LINDA M. ABRIOLA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor PATRICK L. BREZONIK, University of Minnesota, St. Paul JOHN BRISCOE, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM M. EICHBAUM, The World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. WILFORD R. GARDNER, University of California, Berkeley (retired) THOMAS M. HELLMAN, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, New York, New York CAROL A. JOHNSTON, University of Minnesota, Duluth WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder JOHN W. MORRIS, J.W. Morris Limited, Arlington, Virginia CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California CHARLES R. O'MELIA, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland REBECCA PARKIN, American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C. IGNACIO RODRIGUEZ-ITURBE, Texas A&M University, College Station FRANK W. SCHWARTZ, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio HENRY J. VAUX, JR., University of California, Riverside Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director SHEILA D. DAVID, Senior Staff Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Staff Officer JACQUELINE MACDONALD, Senior Staff Officer GARY D. KRAUSS, Staff Officer ETAN GUMERMAN, Research Associate JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Associate ANGELA F. BRUBAKER, Senior Project Assistant ANITA A. HALL, Administrative Assistant MARY BETH MORRIS, Senior Project Assistant ELLEN DE GUZMAN, Project Assistant

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--> Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chair, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. MCCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, California JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN K. SILBERGELD, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES E. MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate SUSAN SHERWIN, Project Assistant

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--> The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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--> Preface In early 1993, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Wastewater Compliance and Enforcement suggested to the National Research Council's Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) that it should consider undertaking a study of public health and public perception issues associated with the use of treated municipal wastewater and sludge in the production of crops for human consumption. At the time, EPA was just finalizing the Part 503 Sludge Rule, Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge, and one of the major implementation concerns was with the food processing industry's reluctance to accept the practice. When EPA first promulgated criteria for land application of municipal wastewater sludges to cropland in 1979, some food processors questioned the safety of selling food crops grown on sludge-amended soils and their liability. In response, the principal federal agencies involved—EPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—developed a Joint Statement of Federal Policy in 1981 to assure that current high standards of food quality would not be compromised by the use of high quality sludges and proper management practices. Nevertheless, the food processing industry remains concerned about safety and market acceptability, and at least one company has adopted an official policy that bans the purchase of any crops grown on fields receiving municipal sewage sludge or treated municipal wastewater. With the issuance of the Part 503 Sludge Rule in 1993, public concerns with a number of technical, regulatory, and environmental issues have surfaced. Because cropland application of both sludge and wastewater represent important management options, municipal wastewater management officials have a vital interest in the feasibility of these practices. Therefore, in mid-1993, WSTB formed a committee representing diverse expertise and perspectives to conduct an independent study of the safety and practicality of the use of these materials for the production of crops for human consumption. The study sought to review (1) the historical development, rationale, and scope of the practice of treating municipal wastewater and sludge in the United States; (2) wastewater treatment technologies and procedures for agricultural use of these materials; (3) effects on soils, crop production, and ground water; (4) public health concerns about microbiological agents and toxic chemicals; (5) existing regulations

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--> and guidelines; and (6) economic, liability, and institutional issues. The committee based its review on existing published literature and discussions with experts in the field. The committee was not constituted to conduct an independent risk assessment of possible health effects, but instead to review the method and procedures used by EPA in its extensive risk assessment, which was the basis for the Part 503 Sludge Rule. The committee met five times over a 17-month period including field visits to the Irvine Ranch Water District in California, the CONSERV II Water Reclamation Program of Orange County and Orlando, Florida, and the Disney World, Florida reuse programs. The committee also held a one-day workshop at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey to hear from researchers, public interest groups, farm credit bureaus, farmers, and state and city planners on land application of municipal sludge in the Northeast. The committee focused primarily on the issues surrounding the use of treated municipal wastewater effluents and treated sludge in food crop production, concentrating on the uptake of chemical constituents and pathogens by food crops. The study did not include an investigation of what happens after the crops are harvested (e.g., processing of food products). Further, the committee was not constituted to evaluate site-specific implementation of wastewater effluent and sludge reuse projects, or to compare the relative merits and risks of various other forms of disposal or beneficial uses. However, the committee recognized that in addition to the safety and practicality of using these materials on food crops, there are many implementation issues involved with the agricultural use of municipal wastewater and sludge including the degree to which the regulations are implemented and enforced, the public confidence in local reuse programs, local nuisance and traffic problems, environmental and product liability issues, and overall public perceptions. In several of these areas, this report notes particular findings that should receive the attention of federal, state, and local authorities responsible for implementing reuse projects. It is hoped that this report will be particularly useful to food processors, states, and municipalities in assessing the use of treated municipal wastewater and sludge in producing crops for human consumption. It highlights public concerns and regulatory issues likely to be faced, and also identifies some additional areas for research. The Committee on the Use of Treated Municipal Wastewater Effluents and Sludge in the Production of Crops for Human Consumption consisted of 14 members with experience in soil and crop science, agricultural engineering, wastewater and sludge treatment, soil microbiology, toxicology, ecology, infectious disease, public health, economics, law, and other relevant fields. The committee gained insights from a far larger group by inviting guests to its meetings, participating in field trips, and reviewing the literature. My great appreciation goes to the committee, each of whom gave significant time and energy to create this report. Additionally, I would like to thank Rufus Chaney and Richard Bord for providing their time and resources to the study. I want to thank the staff of the WSTB, especially Gary Krauss, study director, and Mary Beth Morris, project assistant. I would also like to thank the study sponsors: the EPA, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the USDA, the FDA, the National Water Research Institute, the Water Environment Research Foundation, the National Food Processors Association, the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, California's Eastern Municipal Water District,

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--> the Metropolitan Water Districts of Southern California, Bio Gro Division of Wheelabrator Water Technologies, and N-Viro International Corporation. Without this support, the study would not have occurred. Albert Page University of California, Riverside

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--> Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1     Background   1     Conclusions and Recommendations   3     Concluding Remarks   13 1   INTRODUCTION   14     Reference   16 2   MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER, SEWAGE SLUDGE, AND AGRICULTURE   17     Historical Perspectives   17     Irrigation with Reclaimed Water   24     Use of Sewage Sludge in Agriculture   34     Summary   39     References   40 3   MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER AND SLUDGE TREATMENT   45     Quantity and Quality of Municipal Wastewater Effluent and Sludge   45     Conventional Wastewater Treatment Processes   47     Treatment to Facilitate Crop Irrigation With Reclaimed Water   50     Sludge Treatment Processes   51     Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment   56     Summary   60     References   60

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--> 4   SOIL, CROP, AND GROUND WATER EFFECTS   63     Sludge as a Source of Plant Nutrients   63     Treated Municipal Wastewater as a Source of Plant Nutrients and Irrigation Water   66     Effects of Sludge and Wastewater on Soil Physical Properties   67     Effects of Sludge and Wastewater on Soil Chemical Properties   69     Effects of Sludge on Soil Microorganisms   76     Effects on Ground Water   78     Landscape-Level Considerations   81     Summary   82     References   83 5   PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS ABOUT INFECTIOUS DISEASE AGENTS   89     Infectious Disease Transmission   89     Infectious Disease Risk   92     Monitoring Infectious Disease Potential   93     Public Health Experience With the Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge   95     Summary   96     References   97 6   PUBLIC HEALTH CONCERNS ABOUT CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS IN TREATED WASTEWATER AND SLUDGE   100     Fate of and Exposure to Organic Chemicals   101     Fate of and Exposure to Trace Elements in Sludge   109     Nonspecific Health Effects of Sludge and Wastewater   111     Summary   113     References   114 7   REGULATIONS GOVERNING AGRICULTURE USE OF MUNICIPAL WASTEWATER AND SLUDGE   120     Regulatory Background   120     Federal Standards for the Control of Pathogens in Sewage Sludge   122     Approaches to Toxic Chemical Regulation in Sludge and Wastewater Land Application   125     Development of U.S. Chemical Pollutant Standards for Agricultural Use of Sewage Sludge   127     Evaluation of Federal Standards for Chemical Pollutants in Sewage Sludge   134     Regulations and Guidance for Agricultural Use of Municipal Wastewater,   139     Summary   147     References   149

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--> 8   ECONOMIC, LEGAL, AND INSTITUTIONAL ISSUES   151     Economic Incentives for Land Application of Treated Municipal Wastewater and Sludge   151     Managing Residual Risks   158     Other, Related Government Regulations   164     Summary   171     References   172     APPENDIX   175     Committee Member Biographical Information   175

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