Posted on Leave a comment

The Dangers of Microplastics in Sewage Sludge Sold As Fertilizer To Farmers

What is Sewage Sludge? 

Sewage sludge is the residual solid material that remains after sewage is treated. It consists of human organic waste, human faeces, and other materials such as microplastics that is found in sewage. Sewage sludge is a hazardous substance as it contains harmful bacteria and chemicals.

Sewage sludge can be used for composting, land application or incineration. The latter two options are not very common in Europe due to the strict regulation on emissions from incinerators and the high cost of land application.

Sewage sludge is also known as biosolids in certain countries like Australia.

What are the dangers of microplastics ?

Microplastics are small pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm in size. They can be found in food, cosmetics, and other products.

Microplastics are not a new discovery but they have become more popular recently because they have been found to be in many food products like fish and seaweed. These plastics can also come from the synthetic fibers of our clothes when we wash them.

The dangers of microplastics are not fully understood yet but there is evidence that they may cause cancer and other health problems if consumed or inhaled.

Microplastics are currently used in fertiliser to create slow release fertiliser. These tiny plastic beads can be mixed into the soil and will slowly release nutrients for the plant to absorb. However, these microplastics are still being released into our environment where they will accumulate and can lead to a huge variety of environmental and human health impacts.

It’s estimated that 107,000-730,000 tonnes of microplastic are spread on European and North American farms each year. In 2017, Australia produced 327,000 tonnes of dry biosolids containing microplastics–75% of which were used in agriculture.

In Australia, around 3-19 kilo-tonnes of plastics is applied to farmland via biosolids each year, according to research in the Science of the Total Environment journal.

WWF study has shown that on average, we might ingest some 5 grams of microplastics a week per person. It’s equivalent to eating a teaspoon of plastic — or a credit card — each week.

“Chemicals can leach out in the environment, but [they] can also increase during weathering — plastic can absorb chemicals from the environment,” Dr Palanisami said.

What are the main sources of micro plastics?

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than 5 millimeters in size. They can be found in many places, such as the surface of the ocean and inside marine animals.

The main sources of micro plastics include:

– Packaging materials – bubble wrap

– Personal care products (e.g., toothpaste)

– Clothing fibers

– Detergents and other household cleaners

– Table salt derived from sea water which contains microplastics

– Tap water

According to the study, the highest levels of long-lasting uses of plastic were found in shellfish, beer and salt.

How is Sewage Sludge Applied to Crops and Why has it Become a Problem?

Sewage sludge is a by-product of wastewater treatment. It is a nutrient-rich organic material that is usually applied to crops. Sewage sludge has become an issue because it can contain pathogens and heavy metals.

Some people believe that sewage sludge should be avoided because it may not be safe for consumption, but others argue that it can be used as fertilizer to replace chemical fertilizers.

What are the potential health effects on humans and animals due to exposure to microplastics in farmed food?

The use of plastics in food production has not been studied extensively. However, there is a potential for health effects on animals and humans due to exposure to microplastics in farmed food. These exposures can happen through ingestion of microplastics, inhalation of airborne particles containing microplastics, or through the skin.

The article discusses the potential health effects on humans and animals due to exposure to microplastics in farmed food. The author also mentioned that these exposures can happen through ingestion of microplastics, inhalation of airborne particles containing microplastics, or through the skin.

Conclusion: The Dangers of Microplastics in Sewage Sludge Sold As Fertilizer To Farmers

The dangers of microplastics in sewage sludge sold as fertilizer to farmers is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. Sewage sludge contains harmful chemicals and microplastics, which can affect the crops. In addition, the people who consume these fertilizers are at risk of developing cancer and other health problems.

In order to address this issue, governments need to implement stricter regulations on what can be used as fertilizer in agriculture. They should also ban the use of sewage sludge as fertilizer altogether. Longer term health studies and research is required to determine human impact, but the wildlife animal impact is already present. 

References:

Posted on Leave a comment

The Complete Guide to Flooding and What to Do When Your House is Flooded

Introduction: What is a Flood?

A flood is a natural disaster that submerges land and causes extensive damage to property and human life. Flooding can occur in any season, but is most common in the spring.

Floods are classified as:

1) River Floods, which occur when a river overflows its banks

2) Flash Floods, which happen when heavy rain falls on an area that has been deforested

3) Coastal Floods, which happen when storm waves break onshore and inundate coastal communities

4) Sea Level Rise Floods, which are caused by the gradual rise of sea levels due to climate change

What Causes a Flood?

Floods happen when the ground becomes saturated with water, and it is unable to absorb any more. This can happen when there is a lot of rain or snow melt, or when rivers and streams overflow their banks.

Flooding can also happen due to a natural disaster such as a hurricane or cyclone. These events can cause storm surge, which raises the level of the ocean and sends waves over land. When this happens, areas near the coast are at risk for flooding.

Heavy rain events can also cause flooding if they occur over an extended period of time without any breaks in between. This is because the ground cannot absorb all the water fast enough, so it builds up and starts flowing downstream where it meets another river that has its own source of water from higher up on land.

If you reside in an area that is prone to flooding, you might be subjected to it more frequently as a result of climate change or any of the above events.

How to Prepare for a Flood

Flooding is a natural disaster that can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to prepare for a flood before it happens. You should create an emergency supplies kit for flooding, and make sure you have enough food and water. 

An excellent collection of documents can be obtained from the Australian Government National Emergency Management Agency, known as the “Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook Collection. It’s a great place to start reading and preparing.

You should also take photos of the home before the flood so that you can prove ownership if it gets affected by the flood. 

It is important to prepare for the arrival of a hurricane by purchasing cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment to help with cleanup and safety. It can also be a good idea to organise a portable generator in order to ensure that power needs are met during the storm. This will help limit any potential damage and inconvenience. 

Flood waters can often contain sewage and other harmful substances such as chemicals and asbestos. Wet materials impacted by the flood can also breed viruses, bacteria, and mould. Floods often result in buildings being unstable and damaged and they can also lead to structural damages. This can be due to the heavy rain from the storm, the fast-moving water, or damage from collapsed structures. Some homes are literally washed away. This may include property that is not built on a floodplain as well as those located near waterways such as rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.

Checklist When Preparing for a Flood

Prepare a ‘Go’ Bag 

  • Personal Identification Documents – drivers license, passport, medicare card
  • Insurance documents and policy number details. 
  • Evidence of ownership – store a backup digital copy of all receipts and documents of home contents that may be claimable.
  • Print photos of the home and also store a backup digital copy of the photos on a USB drive. 
  • Portable solar-rechargeable power bank to charge smartphones and tablets.
  • Prepare any medications
  • Health care items like medications and prescriptions
  • Important valuables and momentos
  • Printout important numbers
  • Foods for pets and carriers for transporations
  • Pack a battery-operated radio, torch, phone chargers etc.
  • Clothing and personal items
  • Equipment to boil water. To kill all major water-borne bacterial pathogens, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. Boil 3 minutes at elevations above 5280 ft. (1 mile or 1.6 km).
  • Also have a portable water filter that removes bacterial, viral and other contaminants such as the Clearly Filtered Water Filter (http://rwrd.io/9us49fs) or Grayl Portable Water Filter (https://amzn.to/39z8KW5). See more at https://www.balancedbb.net/shop/drinking_water/
  • Purchase spare batteries for various devices you may need.
  • “Know Where to Go” – ie shelters, friends etc. – have an evacuation plan and share with family and friends
  • Create a disaster recovery kit: https://www.ready.gov/kit (for a checklist: https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/2021-02/ready_checklist.pdf
  • SES NSW Get Prepared for Flood Fact Sheet: https://www.ses.nsw.gov.au/media/5466/ins10113_get_prepared_factsheet_v13_film_web.pdf
  • Preparation Video: https://youtu.be/EccJNKhLtko

What to Do When Your House Is Flooded

Flooding is a natural disaster that can happen to anyone. It can be the result of heavy rain, a storm surge, or even an overflowing river. Flooding can cause significant damage to homes and businesses and it’s important to know what to do when your house floods.

First, you should take personal protective equipment such as gloves and boots into consideration. You should also avoid going into standing water with your bare feet or touching anything electrical because of the risk of electrocution. You should also make sure you don’t drink any water from the tap because it could be contaminated with sewage or other toxins from flood waters. You should also make sure that you have a plan for pets that are in the home during a flood because they are vulnerable to drowning if they stay in an area where there is too much water on the floor for too long.

Checklist When Returning to your Home

  1. Return home only when local officials say its safe
  2. Look for dangers such as downed power lines, gas leaks. Avoid wading into flood waters.
  3. Contact Utilities Companies (Power, Gas, Water) to make sure everything is off.
  4. Check your water, electricity or gas meter to see if dials are moving or not. If it is moving, then do not enter the property. 
    • do not touch electrical equipment
  5. Check for structural damage of the home.
    • Sagging roof or floors
    • Walls that have shifted, cracked or is leaning. 
    • Gaps and cracks in foundations or exterior walls
    • Missing or broken supporting columns, footings, framing
  6. Contact local emergency officials for your area

Watch Video: https://youtu.be/CkQgTNeEBAo

Taking Precautions When Entering the Home

  1. Ensure all standing water around the home has receded.
  2. Wear personal protective equipment – gloves, eye protection, half or full face respirator, rubber gloves, rubber boots
  3. Make sure area around the house (exterior inspection) is free from hazards such as downed power lines, light poles, gas leaks (See https://youtu.be/DjzhvBMZpV0
  4. Turn off gas valve to your home. 
  5. Turn off water valve to your home. 
  6. Inspect meter box and/or electrical switchboard. If damaged, contact your electrician and do not enter the home. If meter box and switchboard is undamaged, use the wooden pole to switch off all electrical circuits. For more information on electrical safety, go to: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/safety-and-prevention/hazards/workplace-hazards/dangers-in-your-workplace/storms-and-floods
  7. Wearing full PPE, enter the home cautiously and use a wooden pole to push down on the flooring to check for signs of damage, sagging, structural damage. Ensure all standing water in the home has receded. Check for snakes and other animals. 
  8. Inspect ceilings or walls for any shifts or damage. If there is damage, engage a licensed builder or structural engineer
  9. Inspect for weak spots. 
  10. Open all doors, windows and attic/roof cavity access
  11. Remove water damaged materials such as plasterboard, weatherboard etc. – it is important to dry the building materials out within 24 to 48 hours, otherwise mould and bacteria will start to grow. 
  12. Remove water damaged furniture and determine what personal items needs to be disposed of. 
  13. Unplug appliances and GPO fixtures – check for dirt or mud which can cause shorts. 
  14. Check appliance manufacturer’s guide on appliances that are water damage. 
  15. Take photos of damaged items and itemise
  16. Contact your local insurance company and start the claims process.

Drying Everything Out After a Flood

  1. Remove cabinets and building materials such as gyprock plasterboard. It will also help with drying things out quicker. Review this video on ‘Things to Keep, Clean, or Remove After a Flood https://youtu.be/uZr96sUvzkQ’
  2. Keep indoor humidity between 30 – 60%
  3. Dry with blower fans, heaters and dehumidifiers. Avoid fans if there is visible mould. Use only if safe to do so and there are no electrical hazards. Use a portable generator outdoors if using one. 
  4. Use a moisture meter to measure the moisture of building materials. Materials should be below 15% or less using a pin-probe moisture meter. Without a moisture meter, tape a sheet of clear plastic over the building material for 16 hours and see if moisture collects on the plastic. If there is moisture, keep drying. This can be used on slabs. 
  5. Avoid painting or sealing any areas until the material is dry (ie under 15% using a moisture meter). 
  6. If you see visible mould growth on surfaces, contact a building biologist. If you are cleaning visible mould growth, then ensure you wear full PPE but it is recommended to engage an IICRC Mould Remediator to remove it physically. 

Source: https://youtu.be/axC5AYZsvIw & https://youtu.be/tFpQdjq_2Ig

Resources

Websites and Apps to Monitor During a Flood

Posted on Leave a comment

The Complete Guide to Magnesium Oxide Boards and Why They Sweat

What is a Magnesium Oxide Board?

A magnesium oxide board (MgO) is a type of board that is typically used in construction. It’s a white board which has been treated with magnesium oxide to make it fire-resistant.

Magnesium oxide boards are made of cement, sand, and water. They have a high tensile strength and are resistant to chemicals, so they can be used in different types of environments such as hospitals and laboratories.

The benefits of using magnesium oxide boards include fire-resistance, chemical resistance, and durability.

What Causes Magnesium Oxide Boards to Sweat?

Magnesium oxide boards are a great alternative to plywood and OSB. They are a lot more environmentally friendly and they have been known to be much more durable. However, there is one major drawback that you need to be aware of before you purchase this type of board – it will sweat.

It is important to understand the causes of magnesium oxide boards sweating before you install them in your home or office. It may not seem like an issue now but once your project is complete and the boards start sweating, it will start to cause problems.

Used as a sheathing, Magnesium oxide boards can be prone to moisture damage and this can often cause serious mould. They were used quite often as facades between 2010-2015 but were found to be causing problems in the long-term.

The binder that’s found in MgO boards is created as a chemical reaction between magnesium oxide and magnesium chloride. Typically, there are 2.5 to 3.5 parts of magnesium oxide per one part of the latter.

The MgO boards are strong and hard, but decomposes when exposed to water or high relative humidity. MgO boards also have organic fillers such as sawdust, and inorganic fillers such as sand, lime or volcanic ash.

High relative humidity environments can cause MgO boards to absorb the the moisture in the air due to the magnesium salt (MgCl2) composition. MgO boards absorb humidity and then subsequently release/sweat salty water. This “salty water” is highly corrosive, and leads to moisture and mould problems, as well as corroding steel frames. It can also be highly corrosive on metal fasteners and profiles.

At 95% relative humidity, MgO boards showed severe sweating after one week, while boards at 80% relative humidity apparently did not sweat after 80 days of exposure. Sweating of the MgO boards did not occur until relative humidity increased above 84%, while at 82% relative humidity, it would not sweat for 30 days. Risk of mould growth increased at relative humidity higher than 92% RH.

How to Prevent Magnesium Oxide Boards from Sweating?

Sweating is a common problem for MgO boards. The magnesium chloride in the mag board reacts with moisture in the air to create salt and water. This is why you need to take some steps to prevent your mag board from sweating.

MgO board production methods have changed in recent times to combines the durability of magnesium oxide cement with the strength of heavy duty alkaline resistant fiberglass mesh. However, other alternatives have replaced Magnesium Chloride with Magnesium Sulphate. Because it has no chloride in it, MgO boards are far more stable in humid environments.

What are the benefits of MgO Boards?

MgO boards are fire resistant Class A1 materials. These boards are lighter, more flexible, and stable. They also reduce construction costs by a significant amount and is a more sustainable production process with a reduced carbon dioxide footprint.

Conclusion

Select Magnesium Oxide (MgO) boards without Magnesium Chloride in it to avoid sweating. There are a range of colour options and surface finishes that may provide a more suitable environmentally sustainable product for your construction. MgO boards should not be used outside of the home in any situation where they’re in contact with moisture.