Wastewater Recycling Prion Disease

It seems that someone is failing to account for prions in sewage at Arizona’s Snowbowl ski area. The plan to use reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking is half-baked at best. It’s reckless and irresponsible because of a deadly pathogen called a prion. Prions are involved with a protein epidemic that is killing millions of people around the world.

The threat is so severe that health officials expect the numbers of people living with the disease to triple soon. Unfortunately, neurodegenerative diseases among people of all ages are rising around the world. The autism epidemic is part of the same problem. There are more questions than answers with these diseases. However, when we connect the dots, it paints a very sobering picture.

Dr. Stanley Prusiner, an American neuroscientist from the University of California at San Francisco, earned a Nobel Prize in 1997 for discovering and characterizing deadly prions and prion disease, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.” President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. Unfortunately, Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we all are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence and reckless disregard for public health.

prion disease and biosolids

TSE is a spectrum disease also known as prion disease. The spectrum includes Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and an extremely aggressive version known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Prusiner claims that all forms of TSE are caused by infectious proteins known as prions (PREE-ons). The prion spectrum varies in severity. It also varies depending on which region of the brain is impacted first. When the presenting symptom is memory loss, the diagnoses flow along the following chart.

prion disease spectrum

Prions now are such a formidable threat that the United States government enacted the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 to halt research on infectious prions in the United States in all but two laboratories. Now, infectious prions are classified as select agents that require special security clearance for lab research. The intent is to keep prions and other dangerous biological materials away from terrorists who might use them to contaminate, food, water, blood, equipment, and entire facilities.

The prion pathogen spreads through urine, feces, saliva, mucus, blood, milk, and the tissue of infected animals (not to mention soil and water). With those attributes, prions obviously can migrate through surface water runoff and settle in groundwater, lakes, oceans, and water reservoirs. If prions must be regulated in a laboratory environment today, the outdoor environment should be managed accordingly.

Unless Flagstaff and Snowbowl can guarantee that not one person with prion disease has ever used a toilet in Flagstaff, this seems to be a misguided plan that places profits over people and the planet. Also seems to be a sad example of hypocrisy.

Read the full story about prions and prion disease, and the risk associated with wastewater reclamation at http://alzheimerdisease.tv/

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