The Gutter Grunt's Glossary of Sludge Related Terms 

Biosolids -- "It's not toxic, and we're launching a campaign to get people to stop calling it sludge. We call it 'biosolids,' " says WEF Director of Information Nancy Blatt.

One legend has it that the euphemism "biosolids" was coined by PR firm Powell/Tate hired by the EPA to dress up the grand idea of spreading human feces on farmland.  Jody Powell was President Carter's press secretary and Sheilia Tate was VP George Bush's.  Another legend is that the WEF came up with the name after polling its member sludge producers.  In 1991 EPA modified Rule 503 so that it now refers to biosolids.

Sludgers and other proponents of sludging America use the term "biosolids" to distinguish between "raw" sewage sludge (not to be confused with raw oysters) and "treated" sewage sludge.  Sludge warriors and state and federal regulations and statutes typically use the native term "sludge."  Marine Corps veterans, ex-cons, Irishmen, Madonna, and other ill-breds, such as the Gutter Grunt, prefer, but do not necessarily advocate the use of, the indelicate but descriptive noun "people poop."   

Carcinogens -- Agents, generally chemical, that cause cancer.

CFR -- see Code of Federal Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) -- The massive set of regulations that dictate how all of America's federal agencies do what they do.  The detailed instructions of how each federal agency enforces the statutes related to it.  Agencies take the statutes Congress passes and converts them into regulations such that violation of a regulation is punishable as a violation of the underlying statute.  The CFR is divided into 50 subject-matter titles, and titles are sub-divided into parts, sections, etc.  Title 40 pertains to environmental protection.  Here is a link to an on-line version of the complete CFR.  See also Part 372, Part 403, and Part 503, below.

Dillon's Rule -- from a 19th Century treatise on American law, it says that local governments cannot pass laws that are in conflict with state or federal laws.  The Rule has been applied in Virginia to prohibit counties from banning or regulating land application of sludge that is brought into the county.  

Dioxins -- A class of synthetic chemicals from the class called chlorinated organics.  Dioxins first gained notoriety as toxic agents in  America's Agent Orange, the USSR's T-2 (Yellow Rain), and most recently as the agent that was used to try to kill Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko during the 2004 elections.  Their long term effects are still not fully understood, but they are known to be carcinogenic and to cause a pocking of the face and skin called chloracne.  They are widespread in manufacturing processes.  They are easily absorbed into the fat of grazing animals and transferred to the milk and meat.  

Endotoxins -- These are molecules that are found in the cell walls of what are called "gram-negative" bacteria.  They are called gram-negative because they don't take up Gram's stain.  Gram positive and negative are the two major classifications of bacteria.  E. coli is a common example of a gram negative bacteria.  Endotoxins embedded in the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria are one way these little buggers kill people.  When the bacteria are killed, they release the endotoxins.  Guess what?  Sludge is composed of up to 25% dead bacteria on a dry weight basis.

The endotoxins don't actually stimulate the affected person's immune system, but they supercharge it, so when an immuno-stimulant comes along, all hell breaks loose.    

EPCRA -- Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (42 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.)  Passed in 1986 in response to the Bhopal disaster and other chemical leaks in the U.S., this bill requires certain industries handling toxic materials to report those materials to the EPA.  See Spew #6 for details. 

Estrogenic agents -- A number of synthetic organic agents are known to cause feminization of males, but rarely females (???)  I'm not kidding, "they" almost always say "feminization occurs in males."  OK, not as bad, I guess, as "pregnancy in women.".  Mostly, what the research is concerned with is male aquatic animals, particularly fish, getting the ole' genital switch-eroo.  I don't know what the status of the research is as far as humans, but someone working on this topic needs to have a look at the drinking water in LA, in my opinion.   

Exotics (biologicals) --  I use this term to refer to biological entities that are "exotic" in the sense of being new and poorly understood.  The best example I have is prions, although the term could aptly apply to slow viruses, genetically manipulated bacteria, and chimerical sheep.  

Exotics and synthetics (chemicals) --  I use these terms to refer generally to that vast, wonderful world of man-made chemicals by which we are polluting the earth.  Examples:  tetrachloroethylene, cyclohexane, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, phthalates, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. 

Forms A and R -- When an industry is required to report its handling of toxins under the Toxics Release Inventory regulations, there are two reporting options. If the amount and type of toxin being reported is within certain parameters, the short form, or Form A may be used. Otherwise, the long form, Form R is required. See Spew #006, December 16, 2005, for more detail.

Helminthes -- A broad term encompassing a whole disgusting host of parasitic worms, such as roundworms and tapeworms.  As far as sludge goes, helminthic eggs are of particular concern because they are difficult to kill.  For instance the eggs of the roundworm Ascaris can persist for years under favorable conditions, and various species of Ascaris are commonly found in Class B sludge.  An estimated 24% of the world's population is infected with just one species of Ascaris, and all those folks are pooping Acaris eggs.    Here's the disgusting pics.

Idiot -- Any person who not only has an opinion contrary to yours, but who also has the unmitigated gall to express it.

Immuno-stimulants -- These are agents that cause a person's immune system to go into high gear.  Sometimes so high the outcome is fatal.  Generally, severe immuno-over-stimulation occurs because a person has a genetic predisposition for being stimulated by certain agents.  For instance, in November, 2005 there was a widely circulated story about a young girl who was sensitive to peanuts dying after being kissed by her boyfriend, who had recently eaten peanut-butter.   

Part 372 -- A section of Title 40 of the CFR pertaining to EPCRA.

Part 403 -- A section of Title 40 of the CFR pertaining to pretreatment of industrial waste.

Part 503 -- A section of Title 40 of the CFR pertaining to sewage sludge.  This is the source of the most important federal rules dictating how sewage sludge is handled. 

Pathogens -- Biological entities that cause disease in humans.  Bacteria, viruses, worms, etc. are examples.  

PBT -- Persistently bioaccumulative toxins. These are the nasties that tend to hang around in the body or in the environment. Dioxins, for instance, are notorious for building up in fat tissue.  The term is used to classify toxins in Part 372.

Pretreatment -- That which is required by Part 403 to be done to remove pollutants from industrial wastewater before the wastewater reaches the POTW.  Each individual pollutant has its own requirements as to what levels are permissible in the wastewater and what must be done to remove it.  Pretreatment may be carried out by the individual manufacturing plant or centrally at or near the POTW.  However, even if carried out physically on site at the POTW, there is a legal and technical distinction between pretreatment and treatment, which is post-pre-treatment.  (Get it?  Never mind, it's the way 'crats and lawyers talk.)

Prions -- Self-replicating proteins that are widely believed by scientists to be capable of causing diseases in humans.  The most widely discussed disease is Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD).  Note prions are not viruses or bacteria.  They are naked strands of protein that enter a cell and reproduce.  Here's more detailed info.

POTW -- Publicly Owned Treatment Works.  A city or county poop-plant, in other words.  

Radionuclides --  These are radioactive, unstable forms of elements.  When speaking of "radioactivity" it is the radionuclide that is releasing the alpha, beta or gamma particle that is producing the radioactivity. Here's a link to an EPA page on radionuclides that provides a list. 


Copyright, 2005- 2015, Denis O'Brien ~ All rights reserved.