We might soon be eating dangerous
By Curt Anderson
Green Bay News-Chronicle
People all over the world create tons of garbage and sewage
every day. As the population of the planet increases,
the problem of what to do with this waste increases. I
am sure you have heard the foolish statement that all
of the people on the planet could be put into Florida.
That means standing in one place, on one yard square in
Florida. One still has to have a place to lie down, a
place to work, a place or two to recreate, a place to
make beer, and of course, a place to put our wastes.
Wisconsin has been dealing with this waste problem for
years. If you consider the dredging of the Fox River,
if it wasn't polluted with toxic chemicals like PCBs,
the dredging spoils would be a rich additive to any cropland.
The situation is further complicated by other pollution
dumped into rivers by industry illegally and legally,
and by legally I mean it has been made legal by constant
prodding and piles of money from lobbyists for special
Over the last four years, our Department of Natural Resources
held meetings of a Citizens Advisory Committee to develop
a "PCB Soil Criteria," which would define the
safe level of PCBs in sludge, which could then be safely
spread on farmland. Unfortunately, the committee was dominated
by large sludge generators in the paper industry, sewage
treatment plants and shipping harbors.
Because 98 percent of human sewage sludge is spread on
farm fields in Wisconsin, with little interference from
our DNR, the Wisconsin Division of Health worked hard
on wildlife and human health risk assessments to develop
honest PCB soil criteria. The result was an extremely
low PCB level, which would virtually eliminate PCB waste
spreading, including sewage sludge.
The pro-landspreading group lobbied against the restrictive
criteria because it would mean they would have to spend
more money to protect human and animal health. Money before
protection of human health. This gives you an idea of
their moral values.
The new DNR proposal does an end-around the proposed
rule by the Wisconsin Division of Health. Instead of adopting
the lower limit, the DNR is creating a waste-spreading
rule that merely continues current landspreading practices.
According to the state Division of Health toxicologist,
Dr. Mark Werner, the average Wisconsin resident who does
not eat Great Lakes fish is already three times over the
threshold for beginning health effects due to PCBs. Background
contamination in our food supply is a serious concern
as PCBs are residual, that is, the molecules are stored
in our fat cells. We don't need more PCB exposure.
Perhaps the most serious aspect of landspreading wastes
is that there are thousands of chemicals involved, not
just PCBs. How do PCBs affect you when combined with toxic
heavy metals, solvents, pharmaceuticals, paints, pesticides
and cleaning chemicals? Do we really want to eat food
grown in soil spread with contaminated river dredge spoils,
paper mill sludge, and sewage sludge?
We must protect ourselves and our loved ones by telling
our elected representatives to push for strict health
protection standards, such as the PCB soil criteria, for
our own health and the health of our children and grandchildren.
If the spreading continues we will all be eating dangerous