A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 July 1993
The following is reprinted, with permission, from Composting Frontiers, Spring 1993, page 23. Editor: Susan Mazzocchi.
This is an excellent quarterly newsletter that is designed to provide direction on composting for waste management.
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mg/kg dry weight
Excerpts from COMPOSTING FRONTIERS, Spring 1993. Edited by Susan Mazzocchi.
UNITED STATES THE NETHERLANDS ONTARIO, CANADA The United States The Netherlands were the Ontario has issued interim Environmental Protection first of the European guidelines for compost Agency (USEPA) has no plans, Community (EC) members to production and use. The at present, to develop develop standards for soil guidelines contain metals standards for composts quality conservation under standards, based on derived from municipal solid their Soil Protection Act of concentrations in rural waste (MSW). However, the 1987. Guided by the background -defined as Agency has indicated that principle of good non-point- such standards ultimately stewardship, or source-contaminated- Ontario will be established sustainability, of the land, soils. These levels are utilizing risk assessment compost quality standards thought to provide an methodology similar to that were calculated to reverse appropriate foundation for developed for the Clean presently occuring compost quality standards, Water Act, Section 503 accumulation of pollutants in pending additional Sludge Regulations (CWA 503 soil by preventing their research-based information. Regulations) promulgated in addition in amounts greater An element in this decision November, 1992. The CWA 503 than are acceptably removed is the desire to leave open Regulations concern the use via leaching and plant the possibility for future or disposition of sewage uptake. Acceptable leaching agricultural use of sludge and sludge products, means no addition of nonagricultural lands. including composts derived contaminants to ground water Ontario standards assume from sludge alone or in beyond current mean values, minimal metals leaching and admixture with MSW. and acceptable plant uptake plant uptake, and a compost Unrestricted use of such is defined by food quality application rate of 100 tons materials is permitted if standards. Central to the per hectare every five years they meet quality sludge Dutch concept of good for 55 years before specifications for metals stewardship is maintenance of relatively conserva-tive concentrations, pathogen land use options for future maximum allowable metals reduction, and vector generations through concentrations in soil are (disease-carrying animals, preservation of essential reached. Neal Ahlberg, of such as rodents and vermin) soil functions - such things the Ontario Ministry of attraction prevention. as recreation, water Environment and Energys According to USEPA, the filtering, plant growth, crop Waste Reduction Office, has standards for metals production, and the cycling been involved in the ongoing concentrations in sludge set of carbon, nitrogen and process of standards forth in the CWA 503 sulfur. In order to development. For us Regulations should be establish deciding on standards was acceptable for MSW compost scientifically-based soil different than choosing products...USEPA has quality standards, the Dutch acceptable levels for characterized the approach Government requires more cleaning up already used to develop the research-derived information contaminated lands, he Regulations as science-based than presently exists. In said. We did not want to reasonable-risk the meantime, the stringent set limits for how much we methodology. Under-lying it Dutch compost quality could dirty-up clean are the following standards are meant to guard, lands.... Risk assessment assumptions: that change in or allow for timely was not utilized for soil is inevitable; that reparation of, soil establishing Ontarios safety factors can be multifunctionality, feared standards. The problem mathematically predicted threatened by the current with risk assessment is that with certainty utilizing rate of heavy metals there are too many unknowns. exist-ing scientific data; accumulation in soil. Since To us, it seems a bit and that currently available protection of essential soil dangerous; our knowledge is scientific information is functions is thought to rely too limited. There are many sufficient to set standards on the eventual elimination differences of opinion, even ensuring no harm to human of all sources of soil among experts. And there health or the environment. contamination, fertilizers are historical examples of While acknowledging that and diffuse atmospheric significant harm caused by neither the dynamics of deposition are also targeted insufficient knowledge, contaminant and soil for regulation. said Dr. Lambert Otten, interaction, nor ecological * * * former member of two risks are well understood, The following [is a] Canadian EPA has concluded that, statement by U.S. Government standards-development ...there are virtually no scientists involved in the advisory bodies... effects when sludge is development of CWA 503 disposed of on the land or Regulations ...just because * * * used as a soil conditioner lower concentrations of metal Results from pilot projects or fertilizer in compliance residue can be reached in MSW in Ontario indicate that with...[CWA 503]...rules. composts [through source composts produced from And that, ...MSW composts separation of organic waste] source-separated food and and sewage sludge can doesnt mean that they have yard wastes are able to provide significant benefit to be attained to make comply with the contaminant to sustainable agriculture; utilization of MSW compost on limits in the Guidelines. compost utilization can cropland a valuable practice Several Ontario safely continue for an of sustainable agriculture. municipalities are planning indefinite period without The marked contrast between composting projects based on risk to agriculture or the EPAs conception of source-separated organic environment. The U.S. agricultural sustainability materials from residential, standards are permissive and that of the Dutch is commercial and industrial compared ... particularly striking. sources... Ontarios [with] those of The Guidelines for Compost Netherlands and the Canadian Production and Use, by Neal Province of Ontario. Ahlberg