Wastewater Reclamation, Biosolids Threaten Public Health

As drought perpetuates across most of the American West and other regions of the world, water managers continue to look for ways to secure water for people who need it. California’s Governor Jerry Brown and other public officials are promoting more wastewater reclamation. His administration has made $800 million available in loan financing for water agencies to treat wastewater. In some cities, such as Wichita Falls, Texas and Singapore, they already pump water from toilet to tap

On the surface, such resourcefulness sounds like a great idea. In some cases, it’s almost an imperative to sustain daily life. However, if we look at the full risk assessment, the story becomes a nightmare. Prion disease is already at epidemic proportions around the world. People who have prion disease (known as Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) are infectious.

The EPA never conducted a legitimate risk assessment regarding the land application of sewage sludge. It never issued official policy. It issued something known to industry insiders as the “sludge rule” back in the 1990s. Furthermore, the fake risk assessments for biosolids and wastewater reclamation were prepared before the world of science knew about prions.

“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively stop prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.

prion disease spectrum

So-called Alzheimer’s disease and closely related diseases are actually members of an aggressive family of neurodegenerative diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” The TSE epidemic represents an environmental nightmare that threatens every mammal on Earth.

Victims shed the deadly prion pathogen in their bodily fluids, including urine, feces, saliva, mucus and blood. These human discharges permanently contaminate sewage systems. That contamination grows within the system every day because prions are impossible to stop. Therefore, spreading sewage water and sewage sludge throughout our watersheds is reckless if not criminal (known risks are being suppressed, while misinformation is promoted).

These farms, parks, golf courses and even yards are permanently contaminated with prions once exposed to reclaimed sewage. Not only is this disposal practice a threat to food and water supplies, but it threatens the safety of our wildlife and livestock as food sources. In deer, prion disease is known as chronic wasting disease. In cattle, we call it mad cow disease. These animals can get the disease in many ways. Grazing on treated pastures and drinking from contaminated water sources is just the tip of the iceberg.

The only difference between prion disease in humans, wildlife and livestock is the different names that have been assigned to them. Prion disease is prion disease.

Prions represent an environmental nightmare like we have never seen before. To manage the problem, we must look at both sides of the exposure equation:

  1. Acquisition Pathway: Where did the person contract the prion pathogen? There are many pathways and causes.
  2. Pathway Management: It’s equally, if not more, important to manage the victims because they are “carriers.” Unfortunately, many people are contagious long before they exhibit symptoms of the deadly disease.

Alzheimer's disease and prion transmission

Modern reforms are vital on many fronts around the world, including food, water, healthcare, sewage disposal and many other vectors. Pandora’s box is wide open and we should at least try to stop contributing to an escalating problem. We’re available to consult on related issues to help contain the pathogen and minimize risks to stakeholders around the world. Read more about the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic.

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