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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Contemporary Perspectives on Infectious Disease Agents in Sewage Sludge and Manure

Authors
item Smith, Jr, J - U.S. EPA
item Millner, Patricia
item Jakubowski, W - CONSULTANT (RET'D EPA)
item Goldstein, N - JG PRESS, BIOCYLE

Submitted to: Compost Science and Utilization
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2005
Publication Date: April 20, 2005
Citation: Smith, Jr, J.E., Millner, P.D., Jakubowski, W., Goldstein, N. 2005. Contemporary perspectives on infectious disease agents in sewage sludge and manure. Compost Science and Utilization. pp. 1-249, Special Edition.

Interpretive Summary: This report presents a comprehensive evaluation of facts and critical gaps in knowledge about the growth, survival and dissemination of infectious agents from wastewater sludge and animal manures and the prospects for disinfection with a variety of existing treatment technologies. Major concerns addressed by an internationally recognized group of experts from agriculture and wastewater treatment include detection, identification and potential impacts if fresh produce comes into contact with raw or improperly treated wastewater sludge and/or manure, contaminated irrigation water, runoff from pastures, excreta from native animal species and other animals that transit farm areas. The core question examined was: 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 the related concerns and facts. It describes how the principles upon which existing treatment technologies operate are the same for emerging and re-emerging pathogens as they are for traditional pathogens. It describes similarities and differences among the (e.g., lagoons, anaerobic digestion, and composting) treatment technologies as they are used for sewage sludge and/or animal manure. This report describes concerns raised about bioaerosols, process quality controls, confidence limits, detection sensitivity, and antibiotic resistant/new strains relative to disinfection processes in general, and provides the reader with views and facts being used to weigh the risks and benefits of various technologies, management systems, and land uses. 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 special edition of the journal is devoted entirely to the 2001 workshop that USEPA and USDA co-hosted on Emerging Pathogens and Disinfection Technologies for Sewage Sludge and Animal Manure. The purpose of the workshop was to review, discuss, and evaluate the effectiveness of current sewage sludge and manure treatment/ handling technologies with regard to their ability to disinfect these materials prior to beneficial use in agriculture and horticulture. Professionals with expertise in the relevant sciences, engineering, and regulatory arenas from the U.S. and other nations participated in a series of presentations and discussions for three days in Cincinnati, Ohio. This report includes all the formal presentations, reporter notes from the accompanying discussion sessions by separate topics. Included are the highest priority microbial concerns that the workshop participants noted from sewage sludge and manure. Also included are discussions of potential pathways of dissemination, detection and quantification method availability, treatment technologies and the stressors associated with each different disinfection approach. This workshop compendium also includes discussion of management practices that address three critical issues: air quality (odors), water quality, and sanitation (pathogens), which have potential environmental, public health and community relations impacts. The consensus statements developed by the discussion groups about the state-of-the knowledge on their specific subtopic and their recommendations for further research and investigation are also provided. Information from an historical, policy and regulatory perspective are provided to shed light on the core principles and findings that were recognized and acknowledged by the participants. This includes 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, especially by way of water and food safety impacts, is involved. This report brings together research findings and studies, as well as policy, regulatory, public health and public perception issues, which have emerged over the past several years in association with animal manure and residuals as well as land application of sewage sludge. The analyses and assessments of not only the workshop outcomes, but also more current developments in these topic areas, 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: 12/19/2014
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