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Wastewaters from homes, businesses and public facilities require treatment to protect human and environmental health. In the process of cleaning water for release to the environment, treatment plants separate solids (sludge), which contain nutrients useful in agriculture as well as microbes and chemicals from the wastewater stream. Treated sludges are referred to as biosolids. A majority of biosolids produced in the United States are applied to agricultural land as a fertilizer or soil amendment. While this practice is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the public has expressed concerns about its potential effects on human health, and the National Academy of Sciences has recommended establishing a framework for human health investigations.
The primary goal of this project is to develop an investigation protocol to assist environmental and public health officials in responding to citizens and medical providers who report symptoms that they attribute to land application of biosolids. Data resulting from citizen and provider reports and subsequent investigations will be compiled into a database that will be used to advance research into the safety of current biosolids land application practices