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Agriculture: Sewage

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 16th June 2011.

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Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Chair, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) the practice of treating productive agricultural land with powdered human effluent and (b) its potential impact on human health; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of James Paice James Paice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biosolids (also known as sewage sludge, and which can include treated human effluent) are an important means of improving soil and have been used in agriculture for many years. Current EU legislative limits on metals in sludge-treated soils are designed not only to protect human health, but crop growth and livestock health as well. In addition, the water industry and producers using sludge follow The Safe Sludge Matrix guidance developed by scientists, retailers and producers, which prevents the transfer of pathogens to food crops. It is worth noting that sludge is not used in powdered form but is applied as granules or cake.

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