Housing Boom Triggers Controversial Use of Human Waste as Crop Fertilizer

Montana’s Risky Gamble

In rural areas of Montana, growth explodes at record rates. It puts areas like Laurel, Columbus, Roberts and Red Lodge in dire circumstances. Septic services almost at full capacity have nowhere to treat human waste (French, Brett. 2022).

“All these (municipal) sewer plants are near maximum capacity,”

Frank, of R.L. Frank Septic Service in Laurel

Their solution, use human waste as fertilizer for crops. But don’t worry, they claim it contains zero safety concerns. And for their benefit, it’s cheaper for disposal. They’ll cover 199 acres located five miles outside of Park City with biosolids. And in 2020, they saved money. Twenty plus million gallons covered Montana’s landscape. The dangerous “Forever Chemicals” seeps into the environment with catastrophic effects. Because once introduced, it never goes away, it’s there forever.

A 2015 U.S. Geological Survey study found “pharmaceuticals, hormones and personal care products associated with everyday household activities are finding their way into groundwater through septic systems in New York and New England. … Septic systems nationwide are receiving increased attention as environmental sources of chemical contamination,”

USGS scientist Patrick Phillips, lead author of the study, stated in a news release.

Even with these documented facts, none seem to care. R.L. Frank Septic Service wants to spread 500,000 gallons a year on the 199 pristine acres. The icing on the cake, the land, sits a half-mile from the Yellowstone River. Like other waterways in the state, it’ll soon suffer from contamination.

But who can we trust? The Department of Environmental Control and Protection contradicts one another.

The DEQ of Montana claims the use of septage on land shows no signs of adverse effects on public health.

When properly done, land application of septage has “no adverse public health effects,”

Montana DEQ

But if you lived near Maine and listened to their Department of Environmental Protection, the truth shine through.

Concerns aren’t isolated to ground and surface waters, landowners across Maine are struggling with past septage applications that were contaminated with cancer-causing “forever chemicals.” The Maine Department of Environmental Protection plans to test more than 700 sites where farmers used the septage, according to a Maine Public Radio story.

“It’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from, … People’s homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. And the scale of the tragedy keeps growing with every sample that we take.”

DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim

Forever Chemicals

And it’s not only Montana and Maine affected. It’s everyone and anyone.

Big box stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, Menards and Ace Hardware sell the waste as a biosolid fertilizer. In Washington state, they sell the product to urban gardeners and farmers in local hardware stores under the name TARGO (Tom Perkins. 2020). What they hide from the public, the chemical causes cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues, immune and nervous system issues, and liver disease — endocrine disruption (US EPA, OCSPP. 2015).

“It’s not widely known that sewage sludge is spread on gardens and agricultural land as fertilizer, but that’s where a lot of our waste from water treatment plants ends up, …. There are lots of nutrients in it, but, unfortunately, it also recycles our industrial and synthetic waste. … Spreading biosolids or sewage sludge where we grow food means some PFAS will get in the soil, some will be taken up by plants, and if the plants are eaten, then that’s a direct route into the body, …”

Gillian Miller, a co-author and senior scientist with the Michigan-based Ecology Center

From the 350 chemicals found in the sludge, studies show over 17% as unsafe and dangerous.

A farm in Maine used the sludge in their fields where dairy cows grazed. Because of the toxicity found in the milk, they had to exterminate the cows. In blood test of the deceased, it showed high levels of these “forever chemicals” toxins. And it’s the same sludge farmers use as fertilizer in our food supply.

Even products labeled organic contain these dangerous chemicals. These corporate terrorists label their biosolid brands as “eco”, “natural”, “reclaimed” or “organic”. (Perkins, Tom. 2021) It’s a lie. Just a play on words to trick the public and increase revenue for their shareholders.

“These are words that can have some truth but there’s no legal definition for them,” she added. While some brands state that the product is made with biosolids, packaging doesn’t explicitly say that it’s a combination of human and industrial sewage waste.

To add fuel to the fire, our corrupt legislators allow it to happen. Factories, slaughterhouses, and other industrial facilities have their permission. They can discharge waste into our tax funded sewer system without consequence. To date, like mRNA vaccines, not enough studies done. No one knows the long term adverse impact on human health. It’s a time-bomb ready to explode.

The Sierra Club Washington’s Darlene Schanfald calls biosolids a “witch’s brew” of toxic substances. … It can contain up to 90,000 man-made chemicals and we don’t even know what new chemicals are made synergistically by combining them, … No one can say if [biosolids are] safe.”

Ban the Practice

As the dangers of biosolids become known, they must ban it now. No more fake snow, dumping it in rivers or spreading it across our farms.

“Everything we have that’s being manufactured in our society ends up in our sewer and it’s going to be in the sludge, so I think we should take land application out of the equation while we figure out what to do with it,”

Laura Orlando, a Boston University civil engineer

Once upon a time in America, politicians cared for the people. They stopped these unethical companies from releasing toxins into the air via the Clean Air Act. But not any longer. Since then, they’ve found other ways to dump their poison. The ocean, and it had horrible ramifications. All life where the contamination bled, dead — the dead zone. Only after their destruction complete, the EPA prohibited the process to save face. Today they turned to another avenue. Land application without adequate testing.

Even with US approval, some states in the US and countries abroad think different. Switzerland banned the use of biosolids in 2003. Maine now restricts their use. Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida ceased their use all together.

But in Montana, it’s go forward without hesitation. They’ll scatter the substance over the land and waterways. Building new homes for increased state revenue outweighs the risk. If this continues, 406 becomes the kill zone. And the last great place in America ceases to exists.

No matter which approach—or approaches—wastewater treatment plants and policymakers take, the Sierra Club’s Schanfeld emphasized that the current system cannot continue. We simply cannot keep spreading biosolids on farmland, … It’s deteriorating and poisoning our soils and our land.”

Darlene Schanfald

Money is the root of all evil, and from its seed, corruption blossoms.


French, Brett. 2022. “Growing Septic System Use Outpaces Wastewater Treatment, so It’s Sprayed on Land.” Missoulian.Com. March 17, 2022.

Tom Perkins. 2020. “Questions Remain About Using Treated Sewage on Farms.” Civil Eats. January 30, 2020.

Perkins, Tom. 2021. “‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Home Fertilizer Made from Sewage Sludge.” The Guardian, May 28, 2021, sec. Environment.

EarthTalk. 2012. “What Causes Ocean ‘Dead Zones’?” Scientific American. September 25, 2012.

US EPA, OCSPP. 2015. “What Is Endocrine Disruption?” Overviews and Factsheets. August 10, 2015.

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