Wastewater and Sludge Reuse Management in Agriculture

Ioannis K. Kalavrouziotis, Prodromos Koukoulakis


Huge quantities of treated wastewater (TMWW) and biosolids (sludge) are produced every day all over the world, which exert a strong pressure on the environment. An important question that is raised is “what to do with them?”.An effort is put by the scientific community to eliminate the concept of “waste” and to replace it with the concept of “recycling of resources”, by means of effective management, which does  not concern only the users, but all the other groups involved in the problem, such as facility administrators, operations, politicians, scientific community and the general  population. Sludge concentration data showed that there exist 516 chemicals in biosolids which create a serious health risk.   It is pointed out that this risk will be greatly exacerbated by chemical toxins present in the sludge which can predispose skin to infection by pathogens. Consequently, the need for science-based policies are necessary to effectively protect public health. The risk assessment due to sludge, is difficult to evaluate of due to the large number of unknown interactions involved. People living near the sludge application sites may suffer from such abnormalities as:  eye, nose, and throat irritation, gastrointestinal abnormalities, as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, including cough, difficulty in breathing, sinus congestion, skin infection and sores. Many problems seem to be related to biosolid and wastewater application in agriculture, which should be solved. A universal one, acknowledged as an “international health crisis” is the resistance of pathogens to antibiotics and to the evolution of multidrug resistance of bacteria”. Certain anthropogenically created environments have been identified as major sources of multidrug resistance bacteria such as in water treatment plants, concentrated animal feeding operations etc. All these, and many other health problems, render the safety of sludge and biosolid and wastewater agricultural reuse, for the time being questionable even though the application is done according to official guidelines. It is therefore necessary that more research work be conducted on the short and long term application effects of sludge on human health, and on the environment so as to successfully address these problems Also,the existing guidelines must be reconsidered on the basis of the research findings to be attained. It is only then that the application of these inputs to land could be as safe as possible.

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2281-4485/6303


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