Thursday, December 04, 2008

Farm Sludge and Lack of Hand Washing Side by Side

On October 31, 2008, The Toronto Star had an article on farm sludge and next to it one on Ontario hospitals not tracking hand-washing rates by doctors and nurses. One report on superbugs though found that only 28% of doctors in ten hospitals wash their hands between patients. Yum.

For 30 years Ontario has given farmers "industrial, commercial and human waste as fertilizer" for free. The humans on a hobby farm next to a recent convert to sewage-as-fertilizer have "been plagued with diarrhea, bladder infections, nausea -- the list goes on....horses, dogs and cats have also become ill." Meanwhile, humans who, ahem, create this sewage have experienced outbreaks of C. difficile in those same-low-hand-washing-rate hospitals, E. coli, salmonella, and listeria, many at home before becoming so ill they had to go to hospital. Many more humans use medications that are excreted out or flushed down the loo and become part of that farm fertilizer. At the same time, chronic health issues have been gaining publicity, and many are switching to organic food for health reasons. Ontario even provides a special subsidy to ill persons who qualify. (I don't believe organic certification would allow the use of sewage as fertilizer.) I am not the only one who experienced less eczema and less asthma after I switched from conventionally grown food to organic. Just as we don't fully understand the effect of the growing unfathomable pool of interacting chemicals, we also don't know how spreading waste, especially from sick humans, on crops affects our health.

As Sludge Watch put it, "It makes no sense to continue applying sewer wastes on our farmland."

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