Wastewater Treatment Plants Spreading Prion Disease
Norway confirmed its first cases of mad cow disease in history last week (followed by its first case of chronic wasting disease in reindeer), while Canada confirmed yet another case in Alberta today. It’s the first case to be reported in Canada since 2011. These reported cases are just the tip of an iceberg that is spreading like wildfire through the environment, including our food and water supplies. The prion pathogen is spreading unchecked, while killing mammals around the globe, including humans. Denial and mismanagement are making the epidemic worse every day.
The technical term for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The operative word is “transmissible.”
TSEs are known as Alzheimer’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and kuru in humans. There is little, if any, difference because prion disease is a spectrum disease that’s only distinguished by the severity of symptoms. Doctors are merely guessing upon each diagnosis. Parkinson’s disease also appears to be on the prion spectrum.
TSEs also are known as mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and chronic wasting disease in deer, including elk, moose and now reindeer. The disease has been found in many mammals, including dolphins, cats, mink and elephants. It’s likely killing whales and other sea mammals, since all mammals appear to be vulnerable to prion disease.
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. He claims that all TSEs are caused by prions–a deadly and unstoppable form of protein that migrates, mutates, multiplies and kills with unparalleled efficiency.
President Obama awarded Prusiner the National Medal of Science in 2010 to recognize the importance of his research. According to Prusiner, TSEs all are on the same disease spectrum, which is more accurately described as prion (PREE-on) disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Prusiner’s science is being ignored and we are facing a public health disaster because of the negligence.
People and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them because prions are in the skin, urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Each victim becomes an incubator and a distributor of the Pandora-like pathogen. The human prion is resistant to both heat and chemicals. It’s reported that prions released from people are up to a hundred thousand times more difficult to deactivate than prions from most animals. Sewage from hospitals, nursing homes, slaughterhouses, morgues, mortuaries, veterinarians and other high-risk places enters the same sewage system. Wastewater treatment plants can’t detect or neutralize deadly prions. Wastewater treatment plants do, however, help spread deadly prions far and wide. That’s because sewage sludge has been reclassified and rebranded as fertilizer. (In November 2018, the U.S. EPA admitted that it could not quantify the risks associated with dumping sewage sludge on land.)
A new study published in the journal Nature renews concern about the transmissibility of Alzheimer’s disease between people. A second study by the same scientist in early 2016 adds to the stack of evidence. Wastewater treatment plants are collecting points for prions from infected humans. The sewage treatment process can’t stop prions from migrating, mutating and multiplying before being discharged into the environment where they can kill again.
“There has been a resurgence of this sort of thinking, because there is now real evidence of the potential transmissibility of Alzheimer’s,” says Thomas Wiesniewski M.D. a prion and Alzheimer’s researcher at New York University School of Medicine. “In fact, this ability to transmit an abnormal conformation is probably a universal property of amyloid-forming proteins (prions).”
Regardless of the country involved, mad cow disease investigations have mostly been handled the same way. This is likely how we can expect the cases in Alberta, Norway and elsewhere to unfold, yet again. The public statement will probably sound something like this:
- This is further proof that our surveillance and testing system worked. You’re in good hands. Don’t worry. Be happy.
- The cows were old dairy cows (actually the case in Alberta is a beef cow) and they never entered the food chain. So don’t worry, your hamburger is safe. Do you want fries with that?
- We isolated the farms where the cows came from and we identified all of the offspring from the infected animals. They’re happy and healthy.
- We suspect that these cows got hold of some old feed that was contaminated. We won’t let it happen again.
- Again, the system and your tax dollars are hard at work serving and protecting–something.
Now let’s dissect this patented response above and start demanding the truth and reform. First of all, there is no such thing as an isolated case of prion disease. That’s the equivalent of saying that you can contain radioactive fallout from a nuclear bomb. Prions from just one victim are impossible to contain. And the sources that exposed each victim are not contained. As the saying goes, “do the math.” Pandora’s box is wide open and it is impossible to contain the prions that are released and multiplying daily.
Yes, it matters where sick animals crossed paths with prions, but it’s equally, if not more important to keep our eye on the sick animals that we know about. It’s impossible to know what each one contaminated before it was stopped. It would be impossible to sterilize or contain it even if we did.
In theory, everything downstream and downwind from infected farms also is exposed because prions are microscopic. Officials who claim that these (and past instances) are isolated and contained should be fired for incompetency and charged with reckless endangerment of the public health and bioterrorism.
Secondly, these sick animals were likely identified because they exhibited clinical signs of mad cow disease. Shaking. Excessive fear. Attempting to urinate constantly. These animals were sick and infectious long before they were pulled and culled. Everywhere they walked, urinated, defecated, licked and drank for the past year or more was exposed and infected permanently. Every animal that has walked in their tracks was exposed. Every animal that touched noses with a sick cow is exposed. The ripple effect is perpetual and unstoppable.
These farms should be quarantined and condemned forever. Sterilization is impossible. The sites will continue to infect animals and humans. Contaminated soil will contaminate water runoff and groundwater.
Again, in the past, the dairy cows with mad cow disease supposedly never entered the food chain, (except for one in Washington State). However, officials never discuss the milk (or other byproducts) from the sick cows. These cows produced milk long before being pulled from the production line. They also further contaminated their environments.
Prions have been found in the milk of mammals. There is no reason to assume that the milk from dairy cattle would be immune. Therefore, unknown quantities of milk could have entered the production system daily for months. Those production lines are exposed and impossible to sterilize. They essentially become prion incubators and distributors. Every gallon of milk that enters the system is exposed to deadly prion pathogens. The same exposure continues right through the food processing chain and right to your table. Anything that ever touches tainted food products is at risk—forever.
Finding the offspring of animals involved is challenging, if not impossible. Animals found should be quarantined for long-term study. The bulls that mated with these infected cows also should be pulled, since all bodily fluids are infected. A bull could expose the entire herd after mating with just one sick cow.
As you can see, the prion pathways to livestock alone take many forms. Contaminated feed made from the meat and bones of dead cattle is only one way for this disease to spread. Even though that practice has finally been outlawed in most countries as it relates to cattle, regulations have been weak and contaminated feed processing facilities were never condemned. Suffice it to say, loopholes and risks abound, but other pathways demand even more scrutiny and reform.
One such pathway involves human sewage and the risks that it poses to livestock and the broader environment. Livestock graze on pastures treated with biosolids (sewage sludge) and reused wastewater. Since millions of people around the world have already been diagnosed with prion disease in the form of Alzheimer’s disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (there is very little difference, if any, between these two diseases), these victims and millions more who have not been diagnosed are spreading prions via their bodily fluids.
Studies confirm that people and animals dying of prion disease contaminate the environment around them with prions because prions are in the urine, feces, blood, mucus and saliva of each victim. Not only are homes and hospitals exposed to the prion pathogen, so are entire sewage treatment systems and their by-products. Wastewater treatment plants are prion incubators and distributors. The sewage sludge and wastewater released are spreading disease far and wide. There is no species barrier when it comes to prion disease. People can infect animals and animals can infect people.
Claudio Soto, PhD, professor of neurology at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, and his colleagues confirmed the presence of prions in urine. Soto also confirmed that plants uptake prions and are infectious and deadly to those who consume the infected plants. Therefore, humans, wildlife and livestock are vulnerable to prion disease via plants grown on land treated with sewage sludge and reclaimed sewage water.
Prion researcher Dr. Joel Pedersen, from the University of Wisconsin, found that prions become 680 times more infectious in certain soils. Pedersen also found that sewage treatment does not inactivate prions. Therefore, prions are lethal, mutating, migrating and multiplying everywhere sewage is dumped.
“Our results suggest that if prions enter municipal wastewater treatment systems, most of the agent would bond to sewage sludge, survive anaerobic digestion, and be present in treated biosolids,” Pedersen said.
“Land application of biosolids containing prions represents a route for their unintentional introduction into the environment. Our results emphasize the importance of keeping prions out of municipal wastewater treatment systems. Prions could end up in sewage treatment plants via slaughterhouses, hospitals, dental offices and mortuaries just to name a few of the pathways. The disposal of sewage sludge represents the greatest risk of spreading prion contamination in the environment. Plus, we know that sewage sludge pathogens, pharmaceutical residue and chemical pollutants are taken up by plants and vegetables.”
Thanks to more and more people dying from TSEs, sewage systems are more contaminated with prions than ever. Wastewater treatment systems are now prion incubators and distributors.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that prions are in sewage and that there has been no way to detect them or stop them. As such, the EPA has never issued guidance on prion management within wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the EPA’s risk assessment on sewage sludge and biosolids were prepared before the world of science knew about prions. The agency continues to cling to it’s antiquated sludge rule crafted back in the dark ages. It does, however, consider prions a “emerging contaminant of concern.” Meanwhile, its outdated risk assessments are promoting a public health disaster (and an impending nightmare for livestock producers).
“Since it’s unlikely that the sewage treatment process can effectively deactivate prions, adopting measures to prevent the entry of prions into the sewer system is advisable,” said the Toronto Department of Health, November 2004.
Exposing crops and livestock to prions is a very bad idea. Plants absorb prions from the soil along with water and nutrient uptake, which makes the prions bioavailable and infectious to humans, wildlife and livestock via another pathway.
Infected sewage goes to a wastewater processing facility, where the prion pathogens incubate and spread even further. If prions are impossible to stop in a sterile environment such as a hospital, sewage plants aren’t stopping them, either. Just ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We have a very fulsome testing procedure. We don’t change from our controlled risk status, so we don’t see this interfering with any of our trade corridors at this time,” Gerry Ritz of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said.
Canada works under international protocols that allow for up to a dozen cases a year of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, Ritz said. Unfortunately, tolerating the disease means admitting the spread of prions into food, water and beyond.
Ritz said the infected animal was not born on the farm where it was discovered. The CFIA said it is still trying to determine the cow’s history and how it became infected.
“The investigation will focus in on the feed supplied to this animal during the first year of its life,” the agency said in a release (surprise). “The agency will also trace out all animals of equivalent risk. Equivalent risk animals will be ordered destroyed and tested for BSE.”
Canada’s first known case was discovered in 1993 in a cow from a farm near Red Deer, Alta. The animal supposedly had been imported from Britain. The first instance of BSE in a Canadian-born beef cow was in May 2003. It’s suspected that animal became infected through contaminated animal feed that contained a protein supplement made with ground meat and bone meal. It could have been exposed to infectious waste from humans via sewage sludge dumped on the farm or one upwind or upstream.
The first home-grown case of BSE devastated Canada’s beef industry. About 40 markets immediately closed their borders to Canadian cattle and beef products, although many of those markets have since reopened.
Testing of cattle was strengthened following the mad cow crisis and specified risk materials, such as brains and spinal columns, were banned for use in feed and other products. Unfortunately, those measures are not enough to control or contain aggressive prions. Doug Gillespie, president of the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association, said the new case isn’t surprising.
“They expect to find one of these from time to time. It really shows our system is working, that beef is safe. It really never reached the food chain or anything,” he said from his farm near Swift Current, Saskatchewan. (Thanks, Doug. We knew you would say something like that.)
Background On Toxic Municipal Waste
Cities have always tried to ignore their sewage challenges and keep the issue out of the public conversation. New York City once dumped its sewage sludge along the banks of rivers surrounding the city. After that disaster, it piped the sludge further into the rivers and then further out into the harbor. In 1924, the city was drowning in toxic sewage that filled New York Harbor. New York City began dumping sewage sludge far out at sea in hopes of outrunning the problem. Over time, this option also became an ecological disaster that threatened marine life and humans that consumed fish from the region.
In 1972, world leaders admitted that dumping highly toxic sewage sludge into the oceans killed entire underwater ecosystems and threatened public health. Some nations stopped the dumping immediately and started dumping it on land or burning it in incinerators. The most responsible cities started putting sewage sludge in landfills. Meanwhile, the United States allowed cities to keep dumping sewage sludge at sea for another 20 years. It finally passed the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988, when beaches along the east coast were forced to close because of high levels of pathogens from sewage that washed up on shore.
The law prohibited all dumping of industrial waste and municipal sewage sludge into our oceans after December 31, 1991. It did nothing however, to keep cities such as Boston and Los Angeles from dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage directly into the oceans every day, but with the help of the U.S. EPA, the Act did redirect millions of tons of deadly toxins and pathogens from our oceans to farms, ranches, national forests, city parks, golf courses, playgrounds, fair grounds, race tracks, sport fields and beyond. From there, the pathogens began contaminating food, water and air as they were soaked up by crops, swept away by rainwater and picked up by windstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes and dumped on innocent citizens where they live, work and play. The runoff still contaminates our oceans after it filters through our creeks, lakes and rivers.
After the 1991 ban on ocean dumping, the EPA instituted a policy of sewage sludge reuse on agricultural land. It hired a PR firm to spin a new brand for the death dirt. They crafted the clever name “biosolids” to help disguise the hazards. The EPA promoted biosolids recycling throughout the 1990s. Unfortunately, the risk assessments were severely biased and flawed. The proof is in the pudding.
This new form of sewage dispersal has sparked a public health disaster that’s still unfolding in the form of autism, Alzheimer’s disease, west Nile virus, Zika virus, chronic wasting disease, valley fever, meningitis, hepatitis, and other threats to public health.
The risk assessments for these practices failed to account for heavy metals, pharmaceutical residue, radionuclides, carcinogens and a deadly form of protein known as a prion (which was unknown to the world of science at the time).
The practice sparked a public health disaster in exchange for healthier oceans and a very profitable new industry. The EPA even took its show on the road and convinced other nations to use its faulty risk assessments to justify multi-million dollar contracts for these new corporations. Countries such as Canada took the bait hook, line and sinker and never conducted its own risk assessments.
Chronic wasting disease is now rampant in Canada and it recently jumped the Atlantic to Norway’s reindeer herd. It’s spreading across the U.S. like wildfire as we spread more pathogens and lies. Land application sites often involve locations where poverty is high and economic prosperity is low, which means resistance is low. Sludge tends to be dumped where minorities live, leading to allegations of environmental racism. Unfortunately, contaminated air, food and water make it back to the cities where the infectious waste originated. In some cases, we buy it back as mulch. Infectious waste in a bag. Farmers and others dump it buy the ton.
We can dissect the issue of prion management in many ways, but we can’t solve these problems if we keep spreading pathogens and lies. Join us as we attempt to reform regulations and best practices around the globe. For more information about the prion disease epidemic, please visit http://alzheimerdisease.tv/alzheimers-disease-facts/