On the “Hong Kong” episode of The Layover on the Travel Channel the host Anthony Bourdain mentioned the number one export from HK to mainland China was human waste because it is being used as fertilizer. In shock the Conscious Life News crack team of investigators searched Google and confirmed that this appears to be true. China has been using human waste as fertilizer for over 4,000 years.
Human sewage, referred to as “bio-solids, can be used as fertilizer however it is potentially hazardous as it contains lead and other heavy metals which can be absorbed by plants and consequently cause further damage when consumed.
Raw sewage alone does have essential nutrients and can usually be used for spinach and other vegetables as well as cereal crops. Unlike the pre-industrial age however, sewage is no longer composed of only human and animal fecal material as now anything including dangerous chemicals could be in sewage. Therefore the raw sewage should be treated and processed before being used on the farm. Even after the treatment the sludge may still contain the following: water, fecal matter, toilet paper, hair, rancid grease, industrial chemicals (containing the heavy metals).
Out in remote or impoverished areas of China it is too expensive to use treated biosolids so the use of raw sewage is fertilizing their crops. Sometimes it is taken directly out of latrines. As a result a 2006 study found that 33.8% of children in China had high levels of lead in their blood. These heavy metals from industrial waste end up in soil as well as rivers and lakes and can remain there for millenia until they are cleaned up but they will also be absorbed by the crops.
But wait there’s more! You may also be shocked that the practice of using biosolids is happening in the U.S. and England as well however it is regulated by State and Federal Government. Companies like synagro.com have online pamphlets about the use of bio-solids as compost. Produce labled “organic” however may not use sewage sludge or synthetic fertilizers.
That’s all for now. Time for lunch.