MAY 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dear Biosolids Friends,
Dr. Brown takes us to the other side of the world, to the largest of the Polynesian islands, New Zealand.  For all of the difference in the landscape, tree species, wastewater treatment processes, the benefits of biosolids for forest application are a mirror to the benefits we realize here in North America.  We don't often get to visit in our biosolids careers so exotic a location, so Dr. Brown gives us a snap shot.  Continue with the blurb below and, if you cwant a copy of this opinion-piece blurb and the articles Dr. Brown cites, go to our website, for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiosolids.org.

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APRIL 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dear Biosolids Friends,

Dr. Brown swallows hard and takes on an overview of the environmental fingerprint of society's use of pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs).  She reminds us that, by the sheer numbers and spread of humanity and through our sophisticated instrumentation, when we look for traces of PPCPs in our water enviornment, we will find traces of PPCPs. The traces may be in the parts per trillion concentrations, but they are there, released from feedlots, septic tank and sewage treatment plants. What does this mean? The reports Dr. Brown reviews do not offer insight into that question, but she does try to point out that the land application of biosolids is not the meaningful source, nor are our WWRFs to blame. If you have people, you have PPCPs.  Continue with the blurb below and, if you can, try to wrap your head around 7 billion people and a part per trillion, For a copy of this opinion-piece blurb and the articles Dr. Brown cites, go to our website, for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiosolids.org.

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MARCH 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Brown provides a useful recap of nitrogen availability in organic amendments.  Her colleagues in the Pacific Northwest have for over a generation been leaders in research into soil nitrogen interactions, with a focus on the role of soil amendments in plant nutrition.  Her review of several of the seminal papers, old and new, are a reminder that the term "compost" embraces so wide a variety of materials, that no single approach to using compost for providing nutrients will work.  Bottom line is that biosolids compost, with a characteristically high percent nitrogen, may indeed be used both for soil building and for fertilization. Most commonly available composts may actually draw nitrogen from the soil in response to the carbon addition. Nevertheless,, Dr. Brown leaves us with the "2 Percent Rule" offered by Dr. Bary. So, continue with the blurb below and learn more.   For a copy of this opinion-piece blurb and her abstracts of cited literature, go to our website, for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiosolids.org.
MARCH 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

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FEBRUARY 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

We have ahead for us a new year of research summaries from the University of Washington's Dr. Sally Brown. In this February Research Updates Dr .Brown looks at the strong case for biosolids recycling that stems from the looming global climate change challenge. Biosolids is not merely a source of macronutiients in place of chemical fertilizers. We learn that biosolids alters soil qualities in an array of positive ways that accomplish carbon sequestration and a rebirth of soil health.  We learn that the carbon in biosolids stays with soil far longer than most carbon sources used as soil amendments, hence it is a superior source of carbon for sequestration. We also learn that the Sylvis, a service company in British Columbia, is preparing a model for calculating carbon credits from biosolids application. Don't miss out on this blurb and please visit the abstracts.  For a copy of this opinion-piece blurb and her abstracts of cited literature, go to our website, for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiosolids.org.
FEBRUARY 2018 RESEARCH UPDATE

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DECEMBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Welcome to December, the holiday season and a turn toward winter, frozen ground, snow and ice.  But for Dr. Sally Brown, at work in the Northwest U.S., clouds and rain set the tone of the season. So her thoughts in the December Research Updates turn to the performance of "green infrastructure," those increasingly common bioswales and detention ponds amidst our parking lots, commercial developments and "complete streets."  She is particularly interested in how these devices are deployed, not so much for moderating the hydrology of stormwater discharge to streams, but for their ability to alter the quality of water, especially reducing toxicity of stormwater to aquatic life.  She faces an establishment that, at the starting gate, is biased against biosolids-based components of bioswale soil mixtures, because of presumptions that biosolids-borne metals and nutrients work at cross purposes to high water quality.  That may not be so, particularly for those biosolids with iron and aluminum compounds that can adsorb and chelate contaminants. So, here is Dr. Brown's take on the new research into this area of specialty soil mixes for stormwater management.  For a copy of this opinion-piece blurb and her abstracts of cited literature, go to our website, for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiosolids.org
DECEMBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

 

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NOVEMBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Welcome to November, and very nearly the eve of Thanksgiving.  I, for one, am thankful for the extraordinary talent and commitment of so many people in our field of environmental stewardship, and especially for the on-going work of Dr. Sally Brown. She brings us a review of THALLIUM this month. What?  I don't remember the last time I have given a moment's thought to this element. But it is, after all, an element created at the last supernova in our part of the Universe, so it is present in biosolids, just as is every element, very nearly. As we learn fromSally, its presence in biosolids is a barometer of its occurrence in the geological basement on which our communities reside, and yes its environmental relevance is subject to evaluation, but not really concern. For a copy of this opinion piece blurb and her abstracts of here cited literature go to our website. for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiolids.org
NOVEMBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

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OCTOBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dear Biosolids Friends,

Welcome to October! Halloween is on its way, have you decided on your costume? But if you are prone to being scared by politics, economy, wildfires, hurricane, etc., one thing you don't need to be afraid of is biosolids. This fact Dr Brown makes crystal clear in her October blurb. For a copy of this opinion piece blurb and her abstracts of here cited literature go to our website., for which you will need to log-in. And, as always, if you care to receive the original articles, just send a note to wtoffey@mabiolids.org
OCTOBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

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SEPTEMBER 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown drills down into the release of micro constituents from land application sites in her September 2017 science review,  She is irked by the framing of research results in "sky is falling" ways, and shows, in her dive into the details of the protocols, just how minuscule are the loadings that occur from land application. She supports her critique of one Colorado study with results of others, particularly one with manure, in which the results are framed in objective terms. She circles around to the obvious starting point, namely the context of the human origin of these compounds to begin with and the other pathways of potential environmental exposure in addition to biosolids recycling.

Visit MABA's upgraded website for a library of these research updates and to review the science abstracts referenced in them..  Also, you should now be able to contact me at wtoffey@mabiosolids.org directly for any of the papers Dr. Brown cites in her "blurbs."

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AUGUST 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown digs into soil mixes in her August 2017 science review,  Public agencies and service companies that prepare biosolids for "distribution and marketing," must meet, at a minimum, the Part 503 standards for safety that are termed Class A EQ.  But Sally notes that the "value added" by biosolids is in attributes that goes beyond regulatory standards.  The performance is in objective measurements of the quality of plant growth. Her review this month is on several studies that deploy testing parameters, some common to horticultural sciences, that compare soil mixes that deploy biosolids components with standard horticultural soil blends. Biosolids is a strong ingredient by almost any measure, except in some applications and climates where soluble salts are a challenge for horticultural crops.  The final item she reviews is a bit different, in that it suggests that biosolids as a soil ingredient may improve the health-giving nutrient content of crops.  

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JULY 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown reviews for July 2017 the topic of plastics, She reviews journal articles that cover the presence of plastics in wastewater and biosolids and their environmental fate, including soil  The most salient point for me is that, despite their ubiquity in our world, the ultimate fate of plastic is poorly known to science. What we do know is that, over time, plastic fibers, fragments and beads continually reduce in size, making them ingestible to micro fauna, aquatic and terrestrial. The impact of plastics on the viability of these small animals, including worms, is not established.  We should all be looking forward to advances in polymer chemistry that replace recalcitrant oil-based plastics with degradable plant based plastics.  We as environmental stewards ought to advocate for this change. 

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JUNE 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown reviews biochar in her June 2017 Research Update.  Co-incidentally my most recent Biosolids TOPICS "The op Ten" included bichar as a topic.Pyrolysis holds a special place in the hearts of anti-biosolids activists these days, as this technology is spoken reverentially for its ability to transform biosolids into fuel and biochar. 

Aside from the great variety of pyrolysis approaches and feedstocks, Dr, Brown explains that, though biochar convincingly sequesters carbon in soil, biochar's effectiveness in soil has a wide huge variety of impacts, not all good.  Clearly, predicting what biochar works and what doesn't work as a soil amendment to improve crop growth is nigh impossible, without specific field trials. Pyrolysis is not a foolproof solution for biosolids management, and neither is the biochar it yields a dependably great soil amendment.  

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MAY 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown reviews in her May 2017 Research Update a question few of us have ever given thought. What happens to the polymer used in dewatering once the cake gets to land application? Are there any adverse effects of this chemical ingredient to soil microbes or plants?. When this question was posed to Dr. Brown she realized she had no good response. So she takes a look at that issue and reports to us.  to this call was the same as mine -- let's take a look at the science.

MABA has just launched a new website, and we will find a new way to bring the details of Dr. Brown's review.  Also, you should now be able to contact me at wtoffey@mabiosolids.org directly for any of the papers by Dr. Brown.

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APRIL 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Brown is helping out here.  While not a new topic for her, many of us had not been paying attention until NEBRA's Ned Beecher called the alarm for a regulatory threat arising in New Hampshire for the future of land application. That threat is tied to PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acids), or more generally to the class called PFAS (perfluoroalkyl substances), "emerging" as a compound of human health concern. These compounds arrive in biosolids from consumer products and tapwater; they do not degrade; and when placed on the ground, some portion can migrate to groundwater. Not what we want to know.  Many new science articles are appearing, and Dr. Brown gives us an overview.

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MARCH 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown reviews the work of Canadian reseaercher, Ed Topp. You may have caught the March 1st WEF webcast on "Emerging Contaminants in Biosolids." This is not an easy topic, but Dr. Brown walks us through the conclusions that involved field studies of a range of compound classes. These include flame retardants, antibacterial compounds and prescription pharmaceuticals. The bottom line is that biosolids amended soils show slightly elevated concentrations, but that the soil environment attenuates the compounds over time and the risk of harm to the soil, water or microfauna is negligible. 

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FEBRUARY 2017 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown revisits an old friend of mine in her February Biosolids Research Update. Well, not really a friend, but a chemical I lived pretty close to and grew very familiar with back in 1993 when Phildelphia's biosolids program was upended by a large illegal discharge of polychlorinated biphenyls. Dr. Brown recently reviewed the topic of PCBs in biosolids. This follows from a call of a concerned citizen out in western Washington from a recently published journal article on risks of PCBs in biosolids. She read some key assumptions in this new paper that sent her back to original journal articles. The bottom line is that, no, PCBs are not compounds of significant concern in biosolids today. 

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NOVEMBER 2016 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr Sally Brown is concerned with our expression, the way we speak, and how that reflects our thoughts.  She responds in this blog to findings, reported at the NBMA BioFest, of the public knowledge of and interest in biosolids topics.  The advent of social media is providing a whole new way to understand, almost in real time, the formation of attitudes and judgments, and our realization of these factors will help us better communicate.

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OCTOBER 2016 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Sally Brown's October Research Update reports on a light-hearted presentation from the Northwest Biosolids Management Association's Biofest in mid September. Her argument underscores the need for a balanced viewpoint of risks and exposures in the interpretation of scientific results, at the juncture with policy. The lessons learned in the work of the last generation on trace element chemistry in soll-plant interactions are relevant to the study of residues of pharmaceutical products, Brown argues. More importantly, we need to guard against the alarmism that the hunt for research money engenders. 

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SEPTEMBER 2016 RESEARCH UPDATE

Dr. Brown frames for us in this month's blog the issue of food waste in the U.S., and its extraordinary financial and environmental cost to society. And, of course, her interest is in how the solution to this issue of increasing public awareness may be solved by initiative at our public wastewater treatment works. Most of us know that the interest in "co-digestion" has grown strong in our conference gatherings and among policy leaders. Sally reaffirms in her selection of research articles to review this month the exciting potential of anaerobic digestion facilities as a low-cost, high benefit solution for communities.

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AUGUST 2016 RESEARCH SUMMARY


The August resaearch summary is an overview of Dr. Chaney's work with cadmium, one of the key elements of concern at the dawn of biosolids regulations in the 1980s. Dr. Chaney showed the importance of the biosoldis matrix in influencing the biochemical reactions of biosolids in the environment. He also drew the connection between dietary balance of elements and the potential for absorption of pollutants. This is great work, for which the honors given Dr, Chaney in his career are so well deserved.

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