Saturday, March 26, 2011

Human Waste as FERTILIZER?

Biosolids (human waste) are used as sustainable agricultural fertilizers in some parts of the world. This means the food that we consume are grown and ripened by the stuff that comes out of us. However, farmers don’t think of it as we do. Farmers actually find biosolids very useful and a great innovation. Question: Are biosolid fertilizers unsanitary or valuable?   

Biosolids as fertilizer

Biosolids are treated sewage waste meaning they are refined before being used as fertilizer. Therefore, it is filtered, but not a 100% pure. Then again nothing is. Moreover, research proves that the health hazards are minimal. As mentioned earlier nothing is perfect, so health wise biosolids used as fertilizers is not a bad option. 
Biosolids has a good effect on the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies all promote biosolids recycling as an environmentally safe and cost-effective solution for managing wastewater residuals. These factors benefit not only the farmers, but the society, too. Biosolids contain a vast amount of nutrients. Some of which are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other trace elements. All these are essential in productive agricultural soils. Moreover, they contain organic matter, which can't be artificially manufactured. Organic matter plays a significant role in soil structure. It improves moisture retention, tilth and the ability of soil. It also increases the uptake of nutrients and minerals in plants. It basically improves crop production. Additionally, it reduces erosion and protects the quality of water. Water is improved because soil is improved, as well. This means the water-holding capacity of soil is increased. Lastly, biosolids are eco-friendly as they are recycled waste. Thus, they conserve precious landfill space. Biosolids are a huge innovation as it has a sparse risk of harming anything within the earth. 

Sewage Treatment Flowchart

When there is good, there is also bad. 
Biosolids fertilizer is food grown using our poop. Gross. Biosolids are also said to be made of pharmaceuticals, steroids, flame-retardants, metals, hormones and human pathogens, among other things. According to EPA, there are 100 toxins found in sewage sludge. However, Dr. Alan B. Rubin, a principal author of E.P.A. concluded that while more long-term research needed to be done, he was convinced that biosolids — including those containing the compounds recently listed by E.P.A. — pose no serious health risk. Dr. Alan B. Rubin further added on the topic of biosolids, "it is causing an impact on the quality of life." 
Although, research proves health risks are involved and our minds jump to the conclusion that biosolids are unsanitary, it is proven that quality of life is improved. 

In this issue, the potential stakeholders are us, the public. We are the consumers and personally biosolids are the right way to go. They have contributed positively to every aspect that they are used for, aside from the fact that there are possible health risks. Then again, nothing is 100% perfect. Finally anything environmentally friendly is an automatic approval. 

Biosolids as fertilizer? Beneficial? Valuable? 100% YES! 

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