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Contamination of farm land.

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Kathy

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Reported in 1999, specifically regarding "Ironite".

SACRAMENTO -- Californians are unknowingly spreading fertilizers made from toxic waste to farm fields and home gardens, according to state and independent tests. Even though these products may exceed state standards defining hazardous waste, the State of California is proposing new rules that would legalize the practice of "recycling" toxic waste.

At 10 a.m. Thursday at the Sierra Club, 1414 K Street in Sacramento, the California Public Interest Research Group and Environmental Working Group will release results of laboratory tests of Ironite, a widely-used home fertilizer sold throughout California. According to their report, "As You Sow: Toxic Waste in California Farm and Home Fertilizers," every sample of Ironite was contaminated with lead and arsenic at two to four times the State of California hazardous waste threshold.

Fertilizer manufacturers are using California gardens and farms as dumping grounds for toxic waste," said Jonathan Kaplan, toxics director for CALPIRG.

Last year, Washington State officials warned consumers that ingestion of less than half a teaspoon of Ironite could be toxic to small children. Using too much Ironite for only two years could make a back yard as contaminated as a hazardous waste site. CALPIRG and EWG are urging retailers to stop selling Ironite until the state requires that the package carry a health warning.

"We see no justification for allowing products like Ironite on the market," said Bill Walker, California director of EWG. "At the very least, the label should inform consumers that the product contains high levels of persistent toxins."

Contamination of agricultural fertilizers may be even more widespread. State data analyzed by CALPIRG and EWG show that more than one-sixth of the commercial fertilizers tested by the state from 1994 to 1998 exceeded State of California hazardous waste thresholds. Spreading these contaminants on farm soils is a particular concern because lead, arsenic and other contaminants accumulate in soil for decades where they may be absorbed by food crops.

Each year, U.S. fertilizer manufacturers buy millions of pounds of toxic waste from industrial facilities to obtain low-cost plant nutrients such as zinc or iron. Industrial waste is often heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Each year, U.S. fertilizer manufacturers buy millions of pounds of toxic waste from industrial facilities to obtain low-cost plant nutrients such as zinc or iron. Industrial waste is often heavily contaminated with toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity.

In spite of these risks, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is proposing new regulations would allow toxic waste in fertilizer at more than four times the Washington State standard, and up to 85 times the amount allowed in some European countries.

"We know that contaminants in waste-derived fertilizers can get into the food chain," said Dr. Bill Liebhardt, a soil scientist at UC Davis. "Guessing the highest 'safe level' for these contaminants is a risky business ­ and if we're wrong, it may not be possible to clean up contaminated farm fields."

http://www.ewg.org/reports/asyousow/ExecSumm.html

One in six commercial fertilizers tested more toxic than hazardous waste

Contamination of agricultural fertilizers may be even more widespread. State data analyzed by CALPIRG and EWG show that more than one-sixth of the commercial fertilizers tested by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) exceeded State of California hazardous waste criteria for heavy metals including lead and arsenic. Between 1994 and 1998, CDFA tested more than 250 samples of commercial (mostly agricultural use) fertilizer products for lead, arsenic and cadmium. Thirteen percent of the cadmium-tainted samples exceeded hazardous waste criteria, as did seven percent of the lead-containing samples and two percent of the arsenic-containing samples.

Spreading these contaminants on farm soils is a particular concern because lead, cadmium, arsenic and other contaminants persist and even accumulate in soil for decades where they may be absorbed by food crops. CDFA's assessment of the health risk posed by toxic fertilizer says that eating food grown with contaminated fertilizer will be the greatest single source of exposure for commercial products. (Risks posed by home-use products were not evaluated). Combined with the potential for exposures of toxic fertilizers stored at home, it is evident that contaminated fertilizers are a threat to farmers and farm workers, residents of agricultural communities, consumers anywhere of California produce, and home gardeners and their families.

Related subject:

Radioactive sludge

Adrienne Anderson says that the Environmental Protection Agency's reclassification of sludge as a safe fertilizer has created a loophole "large enough to drive nuclear weapons waste dump trucks through."

Anderson was one of only two members of Denver's Metro Waste Water Reclamation District board to oppose an EPA plan to take radioactive groundwater from the Lowry Landfill Superfund site in nearby Arapahoe County, run it through a pipeline to Denver municipal waste treatment system and spread the resulting radioactive sludge on a city-owned 41,000-acre farm just outside of town. Lowry was the dumping ground for other Colorado Superfund sites, and it includes hazardous waste from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which produced nerve gas, Martin Marietta's Titan Missile program and Coors' nuclear fuel rod making days. The pipeline is a convenient way to transfer liability to the public and rid the Department of Energy of a nasty problem.

The EPA has approved the disposal of wastewater from 32 other Superfund sites into municipal sewer systems across the country, but Lowry is the only one known to contain plutonium. The EPA and DOE continue to deny that the plutonium contamination at Lowry is out of the ordinary. Indeed, an EPA contractor at the Lowry site, CH2M Hill, attributed plutonium readings to "cosmic dust falling from space." Yet Anderson has found an index of 8,800 secret government documents related to Lowry. The listing, mostly blacked out because of claims of national security, demonstrates that there was "significant activity to deny the presence of plutonium," Anderson says.

In July 1998, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb decided to get rid of his own little problem by dismissing Anderson from the water board. She now has a whistleblower case pending with the Labor Department. Without her around, the water board has proposed allowing plutonium to be pumped into the sewer lines at levels 160 times higher than Colorado's drinking water standard for plutonium. Colorado already is the only state that sets any "acceptable" level for plutonium. And the board has rebuffed demands by citizen and environmental groups for a public hearing on the issue. The pipeline has been completed and, as plans now stand, Lowry wastewater will be pumped into Metro's sewage system later this year.

Laura Orlando is the executive director of the ReSource Institute for Low Entropy Systems in Boston.

It certainly makes you wonder what is in the fertilizer bought for agricultural purposes. Do any of you ask for analysis which would cover the gammit of contaminants, ie: heavy metals, etc.? It would be nice to know what products, groups like the EWG, find to be acceptable.
 

jigs

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why in the hell are you INVITING these loons out to the farm???
don't you see that if you say come out and check this, that they will find more and more to check, then pretty soon those tree hugging a holes will try every thing in the book to shut you down
 

Kathy

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Are you saying we should just allow the contamination of farm land to continue? To hell with the consequences?

If your answer is yes to these questions, we have nothing to discuss.

Not all of the fertilizers are contaminated. If you use these man-made fertilizers, you should be finding out what brands are safe. This goes for gardeners, as well as farmers.

I have always believed that the people making a living off the land, would be the strongest, most vocal environmentalists.
Unfortunately, this belief has more and more holes in it, that don't give a hoot, everyday.

The question should be, what do you have to hid on your farm, that an inspection would shut you down?

Denver municipal waste treatment system and spread the resulting radioactive sludge on a city-owned 41,000-acre farm just outside of town.

Why do you think the city of Denver has to own its own 41,000 acre farm? They obviously have something, the other farmers don't want. So they buy up 41,000 acres and dump it there.
 

jigs

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I am not hiding anything, and I am a good steward of the land, but I do not need some paper pushing hippie with a college education telling me how to do a damned thing. You get these kids up there and douse them with liberal tree hugging bull butter, and then you get a big problem.

we farmers are responsible for everything.
ozone depletion.....cows put off methane
fish kill.......pesticide run off
trees dieing..chemicle drift
health problems in the area....well water contamined from nitrogen applied


ever friggin ounce of spray I apply out here is monitored and applied with care. now how many bright green lawns in town are natural?? how many ppa of fertilizer are they applying??

you get all those wealthy town folks to abandon the yard care, then go hound the farmer.

if you are annalizing everything you are applying, then you obviously have too much time on your hands!

as for hiding chemicals.....if you need some 245T ( commonly refered to as "Agent Orange") let me know. a buddy of mine uses it every now and then
 

Kathy

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I don't think we are as far apart as it looks on this subject. But we can thank people who disregard application rules, spray anything, and ignore possible dangers, for giving our industry a bad name.

I totally agree that the town people need to smarten up; but it shouldn't be a matter of them first then us.

I have also heard that the sprays used in the cities are overapplied, etc. and thankfully many city corps. are stopping the use of these chemicals.

I am lery of golfing, as they use way too many sprays as well. We had a fellow die of a heart attack after working many long hard days on the golf course expansion. My first question, was were they spraying that day. The answer was yes. Personally, I would have liked to see if his blood was affected in any way by this spray, before a final determination was made as to why he had a heart attack. It may have had absolutely nothing to do with his death; but, it also may have caused some neurological misfiring of his heart, and been a major contributing factor. We will never know, as no such tests were run that I am aware of.

Your darn right the farmer is blamed for all these things. And we continue to ignore these accusations hoping they'll just go away. I think if we want to clear our good name, we need to be more pro-active and cooperative with these environmental groups. (Not ask the government to tell the public that the sprays are safe - this is lame, as more and more people don't trust our governments).

Mike posted "Canadians Contaminated" which speaks to testing of 10 Canadians for harmful chemicals. Why don't we demand that all farmers that want to have their blood tested, get tested for free (and their family members).

When I find farmers that have changed their opinions on chemicals, it is almost always after someone in their family has been diagnosed or has died of cancer. Although there may be no direct evidence the sprays caused anything, or contributed to a faster progression - they have been forced to take a long hard look at their spraying practices, etc.

I have yet to see a farmer using a mask, while spraying. They just get in the cab and drive. The filter on that tractor is not going to protect them from the spray drift.
 

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