Commentary: Sick people are anti-farming activists
"Study participants told us that onset of the symptoms occurred while the sludge was being applied or soon after," said Amy Lowman, research associate in epidemiology and the study's first author. "These were not one-time incidents, either. Respondents reported these illnesses occurring several times, and always after the biosolids were applied to nearby farmland."
“Other symptoms reported by more than one respondent in the wake of sludge applications included difficulty breathing, sinus congestion or drainage, and skin infection and sores,” Lowman is reported as explaining. The key here is “more than one respondent”—which is a small sampling on which to base conclusions.
The news release about the study further goes into claiming environmental contamination without enforcement of the sludge being properly applied. “Respondents also reported sludge run-off into local waterways and cattle grazing on fields soon after sludge applications,” the news release reports.
The lead author is quoted as noting that run-off is against the law, contaminates waterways, treated fields must have signage posted and livestock are not supposed to graze fields following sludge application for 30 days.
The true effort appears to be to end the use of fertilizers of any type because it might contaminate the pristine world that the activists envision where farming is outlawed in favor of wild flowers and rainbows every day of the year.
"Most people in towns and cities don't know where their sewage sludge goes," said Steve Wing, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Gillings School and a co-author of the study. "If they had to live near where it is being spread out, they might be more concerned about this practice. Many respondents in our study said it's not fair for rural people to bear the burden of urban waste disposal."
Lowman said, "We're talking about a material containing chemicals and organisms that can make people sick. Although the EPA promotes land application of sludge, it has not said the practice is safe for people's health or the environment. More than half of people interviewed reported similar symptoms. These reports came from individuals in three different states, on separate occasions, who lived up to a mile from areas where sludge was applied. The findings are consistent with previous reports of health impacts and support calls for health and environmental agencies to pay more attention to the potential for sludge to impact people who live near land application sites."
My contention is this is environmental activism rather than a public health study report by a university.