Surveys of Pollutants in Sewage Sludge / Biosolids
It is important to characterize and understand what chemicals may be present in sewage sludge and biosolids that are generated by the nation's publicly owned treatment works. EPA has conducted three national sewage sludge surveys since 1988 to obtain unbiased national estimates of the concentrations of more than 500 pollutants in sewage sludge, including metals; dioxins and dioxin-like compounds; inorganic ions; certain organics (e.g., polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, semivolatiles); polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants); and pharmaceuticals, steroids and hormones in sewage sludge managed by land application.
The most recent survey, the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, is a valuable step in advancing the understanding of what is present in treated sewage sludge and in evaluating what potential harm those pollutants may pose to human health and the environment. It also fulfills an important commitment under the agency's priority focus areas for pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) by providing the first national estimates of which compounds may be present in sewage sludge and at what concentrations.
Separate from EPA, in October 2000 the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA), now known as the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), also conducted a voluntary survey (AMSA Dioxins Sewage Sludge Survey, see report below) to determine current levels of dioxin-like compounds (i.e., polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans and dioxin-like coplanar PCBs) in biosolids (sewage sludge). These data were collected to assist U.S. EPA in developing an environmentally sound and technically correct dioxin decision for land-applied biosolids.
Survey documents are provided. If you have trouble accessing any content in the following documents, please contact Liz Resek by phone (703-347-0391) or email (Resek.Elizabeth@epa.gov).You may need Adobe Reader to view files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
- Statistics Support Documentation for the 40 CFR Part 503 - Volume 1 (PDF)(286 pp, 11 MB, November 1992)
- Statistics Support Documentation for 40 CFR Part 503 - Volume II (PDF)(359 pp, 20 MB, November 1992)
- Sampling Procedures and Protocols for the National Sewage Sludge Survey (PDF)(37 pp, 2 MB)
- Dioxins Statistical Support Document for the Development of Round 2 (PDF)(149 pp, 784 K, April 2002, EPA -822-R-02-034)
- 2001 Dioxin National Sewage Sludge Survey (PDF)(21 pp, 798 K, September 2007, EPA-822-R-07-006)
- AMSA Dioxins Sewage Sludge Survey (PDF)(166 pp, 431 K, October 2001)
- Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey Sampling and Analysis Technical Report (PDF)(88 pp, 368 K, January 2009, EPA-822-R-08-016)
- Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey Statistical Analysis Report (PDF)(58 pp, 397 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix A (PDF)(309 pp, 523 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix B (PDF)(104 pp, 264 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix C (PDF)(7 pp, 52 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix D (PDF)(5 pp, 75 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix E (PDF)(37 pp, 277 K, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018)
- TNSSS Statistical Analysis Report Appendix F (PDF)(19 pp, 1 MB, April 2009, EPA-822-R-08-018) )
2009 Nine POTW Study (PDF)(85 pp, 1 MB,
The primary objective of EPA’s Nine POTW Study (the Study) was to investigate the occurrence of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) in untreated and fully treated wastewater at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs).
Report on Elemental Analysis of Samples From the Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey (PDF)(27 pp, 821 K,
This report describes the sampling and analysis activities performed in a follow-up to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey (TNSSS) and presents summary level data from the elemental analyses of sewage sludge samples. The elemental analyses were conducted as a follow-up activity not associated with the original survey, but employing archived sewage sludge samples from the TNSSS for the analyses of specific elements.