In 2001, EPA published its determination that standards or management practices are not warranted for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds in sewage sludge that has been disposed of at a surface disposal site or incinerated in a sewage sludge incinerator. EPA based its decision on an evaluation of the risk of exposure for people most likely to be exposed to dioxin from these sources and concluded that existing regulations for incinerators, landfills, or containment ponds adequately protect human health and the environment by limiting exposure to pollutants, including dioxins.
In 2003, EPA published its decision not to regulate dioxins in land-applied sewage sludge. The Agency determined that land applied dioxins do not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. The most highly exposed people, theoretically, are those people who apply sewage sludge as a fertilizer to their crops and animal feed and then consume their own crops and meat products over their entire lifetimes. EPA’s analysis showed that only 0.003 new cases of cancer could be expected each year or only 0.22 new cases of cancer over a span of 70 years. The risk to people of new cancer cases resulting from sewage sludge containing dioxin in the general population is even smaller due to lower exposures to dioxin in land-applied sewage sludge than the highly exposed farm family which EPA modeled.
The following documents summarized or helped support the development of final EPA actions on sewage sludge that is incinerated, placed in sludge landfills or containment ponds, or that is land applied regarding dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.
- 2001 Fact Sheet for Dioxin Disposal (PDF)(2 pp, 274 K, December 2001)
- 2003 Final Action Not to Regulate Dioxins in Land-Applied Sewage Sludge (PDF)(3 pp, 259 K, October 2003, EPA 822-F-03-007)