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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Highlights, Insights, and Perspectives on Infectious Disease Agents in Sewage Sludge and Animal Manure in the United States

Authors
item Smith, J - U.S., EPA
item Millner, Patricia
item Goldstein, N - J.G. PRESS, BIOCYCLE

Submitted to: Compost Science and Utilization
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: April 20, 2005
Citation: Smith, J.E., Millner, P.D., Goldstein, N. 2005. Highlights, insights, and perspectives on infectious disease agents in sewage sludge and animal manure in the united states. Compost Science and Utilization. pp.3-23, Special Edition.

Interpretive Summary: Growth, survival and dissemination of infectious agents from wastewater/animal manures to clean water sources and fresh produce must be reduced. Raw or improperly treated wastewater/manure, contaminated irrigation water, runoff from pastureland, excreta from native animal species and other animals that transit farm areas may bring pathogens directly into contact with produce. A core question that arises is: Are the existing treatment technologies adequate to disinfect sewage sludge and/or animal manure from all known pathogens, including emerging pathogens? For most infectious microbes (bacteria, parasites, viruses), the general answer is YES. This report explains this answer and related issues. Operating technologies as designed and in accord with state and federal requirements or guidelines is basic for success. The principles upon which existing treatment technologies operate are the same for emerging and re-emerging pathogens as they are for traditional pathogens. None of the emerging pathogens exhibit biological/survival properties uniquely different from those already known for infectious disease microorganisms. Furthermore, some of the same types of treatment technologies (lagoons, anaerobic digestion, and composting) as are used for sewage sludge also have been reported to successfully achieve comparable amounts of disinfection with animal manure. In actual fact though, less experience has accumulated with manure disinfection technologies and accompanying development and validation of pathogen detection methods than for sewage sludge. This report addresses concerns raised about bioaerosols, process quality controls, confidence limits, detection sensitivity, and antibiotic resistant/new strains relative to disinfection processes in general. Gaps in information and detection/identification methods are summarized. This information will help inform wastewater industry and public health professionals, as well as the public, scientists, and environmentalists in gaining a contemporary perspective on the state-of-the-knowledge of the disinfection efficacy of treatment technologies used for organic residuals management from urban and rural perspectives.

Technical Abstract: This chapter highlights the core principles and findings from the 2001 USEPA and USDA workshop on Emerging Pathogens and Existing Treatment Technologies for Sludge and Animal Manure. It also provides an historical, policy and regulatory framework to shed light on, and better understand, the core principles and findings that were recognized and acknowledged by the participants. To this end, this chapter is divided into two parts. Part I focuses on the major findings and how they relate to questions that the public, regulatory, and scientific communities have posed in recent years. Information is presented in a question and answer format. Part II includes the underlying principles and practices involved in treating wastes potentially containing infectious disease organisms; historical perspectives of how past practices and concerns influenced the establishment and implementation of current regulations and practices regarding infectious organisms; and finally, the critical role of process performance evaluation and oversight in an arena where public health is involved. This chapter also discusses relevant research findings and studies, as well as policy, regulatory, public health and public perception issues, which have emerged over the past several years. We believe that having the opportunity to analyze and assess both the workshop outcomes and more current developments has resulted in a comprehensive assessment of the state of the knowledge of infectious disease agents in sewage sludge and manure relative to effectiveness of disinfection treatment practices.

Last Modified: 12/17/2014
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