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Seventy-nine North Carolina counties have farms that are sprayed with sewage sludge. What you can do to protect yourself and your community.

Sludge in the Triangle & what you can do 


Sludge in the Triangle

Seventy-nine North Carolina counties have farms that are sprayed with sewage sludge.

Here are the totals of sludge applied on fields in nearby counties from 2005–2007, the latest figures available. The sludge was spread on the fields but not physically worked into the soil.

Some fields didn't report the total acreage permitted, so these are estimates.


ORANGE COUNTY
Includes fields of corn, fescue, rye grass, soybeans and wheat
 
Year Number of fields Acres utilized Total Dry Tons Total Gallons Dry Tons Per Acre
2005 83 1227.02 4772.38 13,269,763 3.89
2006 97 1585.83 5358.87 18,624,170 3.38
2007 126 1817.76 5863.2 19,319,988 3.23
 
CHATHAM COUNTY
All sludge was applied on fescue, typically grown for pasture and hay for livestock
 
Year Number of fields Acres utilized Total Dry Tons Total Gallons Dry Tons Per Acre
2005 43 654.3 1809.4 13,601,000 2.77
2006 48 877.49 2115.98 17,419,000 2.41
2007 62 1151.33 3153.35 19,982,500 2.74
 
ALAMANCE COUNTY
All sludge was applied on fescue, typically grown for pasture and hay for livestock
 
Year Number of fields Acres utilized Total Dry Tons Total Gallons Dry Tons Per Acre
2005 45 794.90 2,325.127 15,687,922 2.93
2006 51 969.28 2,369.885 18,350,400 2.44
2007 67 969.20 2,352.105 19,789,200 2.43

Source: NC DENR



What can you do?

  • Think upstream. Keep chemicals out of sludge by choosing safer household and personal care products. Learn more at www.healthylegacy.org/consumerpower.cfm.

  • Buy "certified organic" when possible—especially meat and dairy—and vegetables known to take up sludge contaminants, including roots and tubers such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots, and leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach. Federal organic standards prohibit sewage sludge application to crop- or pastureland for a minimum of three years immediately preceding harvest.

  • Support local growers who don't use sludge. Absent labeling requirements, check with the farmer.

  • Wash and peel produce to help reduce (but not eliminate) exposure to disease-causing organisms and chemicals.

  • Avoid home use of sludge-based fertilizers. Some products are made entirely from sludge. Others are a blend of sludge with materials such as leaves, sawdust and food waste. Most sludge products are only marketed locally or regionally. Others, such as Milorganite®, are sold in home and garden stores nationwide. Find the names of known sludge-based fertilizer products at www.healthobservatory.org.

  • Choose landscapers wisely. Screen landscape/lawn care companies before hiring to make sure they will not use sludge-based fertilizer products on your lawn or garden.

  • Encourage elected officials to ban use of sewage sludge on agricultural land and home gardens; in the absence of a ban, require labeling of food produced from sludge-amended soil and promote policies that incentivize manufacturers to create safer products using clean, innovative technologies that do not put toxic chemicals into the waste stream.

Source: The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy


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