The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters The Big Necessity discussion


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Biosolids fertilizer contradiction

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Brian sooo...

1) China dumps their sewage on veggies, and thus potentially has less sewage disposal problems...

2) The US has put sewage on fields and it made all kinds of people sick

So are we just doing it wrong? Or is it because if sewage on your veggies makes you sick in China, you can't sue anyone? Maybe Chinese people have magical poo? What is the deal here?




Dennis D. I re-read the chapter that dealt with China and their use of waste in agriculture, and I didn't see an answer to this. Ms. George says in the book that the Chinese have been using human waste as fertilizer for 4,000 years. Maybe historically (pre-industry) this waste was mostly organic, while the 'Class B biosolids' suspecting of sickening people is modern-day sludge that contains metals and other industrial waste? It’s a great question, and just for the hell of it, I e-mailed it to the author. She blogs on these topics pretty regularly; maybe she’ll touch on this one.


Heather I think she hinted at the answer when she mentioned that sewage in the U.S is rarely just human waste, and that at some treatment plants the sewage can be made almost entirely out of industrial waste.

Human waste by itself can be a viable source of fertilizer if composted. Industrial waste is a completely different matter that is unfit for humans.

Since the rural places in China that she describes don't really use a sewage system, the night soil that is being used to grow these plants is not mixed with all sorts of toxic industrial byproducts. Unless they are using their toilets to dump out household cleaners or something of the like, they are really not going to be facing the same issues that we face in the United States where all waste is combined together.


message 4: by Dennis D. (last edited Sep 22, 2012 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dennis D. Heather wrote: "I think she hinted at the answer when she mentioned that sewage in the U.S is rarely just human waste..."

That makes perfect sense to me.


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