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Select Biosolids Regulatory Processes

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Biennial Reviews

EPA reviews sewage sludge regulations every two years to identify additional toxic pollutants and sets regulations for those pollutants if sufficient scientific evidence shows they may harm human health or the environment. The purpose of the biennial reviews EPA conducts is to identify additional toxic pollutants and promulgate regulations for those pollutants consistent with the requirements set forth in the Clean Water Act section 405(d)(2)(C). Read more information about EPA's biennial reviews for 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011.

Dioxins in Sewage Sludge

EPA in 2001 published in the Federal Register its determination that numeric standards or management practices are not warranted for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds in sewage sludge that is disposed of at a surface disposal site or incinerated in a sewage sludge incinerator. In 2003 EPA published in the Federal Register its decision not to regulate dioxins in land-applied sewage sludge.  Read additional information on both of these actions.

Sewage Sludge Surveys

Sewage sludge surveys are a valuable step in advancing the understanding of what is present in treated sewage sludge. The information from such surveys provides important input for EPA and others to use in evaluating biosolids generated by the nation's publicly owned treatment works.

EPA Response to the National Research Council (NRC) Report

In early 1993, to assist with finalizing the Standards for the Use or Disposal of Sewage Sludge, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) asked the National Research Council of the National Academies to consider undertaking a study of public health and public perception issues associated with the use of treated municipal wastewater and sludge in the production of crops for human consumption. The committee produced a report Use of Reclaimed Water and Sludge in Food Crop Production.

In 2001, to help address the questions and the requirement for periodic reassessment of the Part 503 rule, EPA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to independently review the technical basis of the chemical and pathogen regulations for biosolids, focusing only on human health. The NRC produced a report in 2002 titled Biosolids Applied to Land, Advancing Standards and Practices. The Agency responded in 2003 to the NRC report in the form of a 14-project Action Plan.

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