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ERIC Number: EJ907602
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
When Research Turns to Sludge
Wing, Steve
Academe, v96 n6 p22-24 Nov-Dec 2010
Sewage sludge is composed of residuals removed from wastewater that comes from homes, hospitals, and industries. Wastewater-treatment systems are designed to remove pollutants that could contaminate public waterways. Sludge--called "biosolids" by those who produce it, spread it, and regulate it--includes these pollutants as well as bacteria and wastewater-treatment chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the United States produces more than eight million dry tons a year of sewage sludge, the majority of which is spread on rural lands. Although rural residents have reported illnesses associated with land applications of sludge for many years, government agencies do not routinely investigate or maintain records of illness reports. Despite the fact that a 2002 National Academy of Sciences report called for investigations into human exposure to sludge and illnesses, the United States has no database for tracking where the nation's sludge has been applied. When the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) issued a request for proposals to develop a system for monitoring and investigating illness reports, the author's research group was encouraged to apply. WERF is a nonprofit organization funded jointly by municipalities that produce sludge, corporations that spread it, and the EPA, which established regulations in 1993 intended to protect health and the environment from sludge. WERF's sponsorship of research on sludge, and its efforts to control both the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge, is just one example of a broader problem that affects funding from organizations and government agencies aligned with corporate interests. To guard the public interest from financial conflicts, universities must look beyond the industry-funding problem to consider the nature and depth of influences from nonprofits, including foundations, as well as from government agencies closely tied to industry.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States