EPA Statement on Biosolids and COVID-19

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Recently the U.S. EPA released a statement on whether biosolids (treated sewage sludge) contain SARS-CoV-2 virus and whether biosolids can be land applied safely. The statement says the following:

“Existing requirements and guidance help ensure that biosolids are processed, handled, and land-applied in a manner that minimizes the risk of exposure to pathogens, including viruses. We have no evidence that biosolids contain infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus when requirements under 40 CFR part 503 are met for Class A biosolids. Generally, pathogens may exist when requirements are met under 40 CFR part 503 for Class B biosolids, which is why EPA’s site restrictions that allow time for pathogen degradation should be followed for harvesting crops and turf, for grazing of animals, and public contact. All requirements under 40 CFR Part 503 should continue to be met. Additionally, per CDC’s Guidance for Controlling Potential Risks to Workers Exposed to Class B Biosolids, employers should prevent work-related illness by providing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and supporting other health and safety practices for persons hauling and land applying biosolids. While no additional COVID-19–specific protections are recommended for the land application of biosolids, consider checking for advisories from your local health department.”

The statement was provided by Elizabeth Resek, Biosolids Lead, Health and Ecological Criteria Division of the Office of Science and Technology for the EPA/Office of Water.