RE: Lawn Fertilizers and Milorganite
I'm afraid that I have to vote with Dan on this issue. Just how much
Cadmium and/or Arsenic is safe?
As I understand the current "compliance" status of Milorganite, the change
from 10 years ago was based on a change of "acceptable" limits from the
EPA. This changes was driven by intense industry lobbying.
We refuse to use Milorganite, and also refuse to sell Milorganite. There
are many safer products.
At 02:47 PM 9/25/00 -0400, you wrote:
>I am not as aware as Dan is of the state of various compounds, etc. and
>their effects on the environment However, if you go to the milorganite
>site you will see its analysis of heavy metals, discusses its compliance
>with EPA regulations, which apparently not all fertilizers now meet. I
>have used Milorganite for 10 years and when I first got it it said on the
>package -- not safe for use on vegatable gardens or if you are served by
>well water. The composition I now get says that is safe for both
>purposes. I am curious as to the date of the data at the other site that
>Here is the address for the Milorganite site. I am not a share holder or
>Milorganite or a Milwaukee Wisconsin voter.
>Rich in iron. Non-Staining.
>Iron is essential for the formation of chlorophyll, the pigment that makes
>plants green. And greening power is what your plants get from
>Milorganite—the fertilizer containing more than 4% iron. Unlike the iron
>salts some fertilizers contain, Milorganite's iron is organically
>complexed and readily absorbed by your plants. So while it's priced like
>inexpensive iron salts, Milorganite iron acts more like expensive
>synthetic chelates. That means it even works in poor soils, regardless of
>soil pH. And Milorganite won't stain nearby walks, patios, drives, fences
>or walls like other fertilizers can.
>Meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Exceptional Quality
>We're pleased to report that Milorganite easily meets the EPA's stringent
>"Exceptional Quality Standards." So its non-burning, no-chemical-salt
>formula is ideal for all your fertilizing needs.
>Slow-release formula. Uniform growth.
>Milorganite's slow-release formula (83% water insoluable nitrogen)
>provides nitrogen over an eight- to 12-week period, eliminating the
>problems with excessive growth, like constant mowing and extra clippings.
>Ideal for sandy soils.
>Sandy soils aren't exactly known for being rich in organic matter or
>holding onto nutrients. Milorganite contains 75% organic matter by weight
>and releases its nutrients slowly. And in the process, helps promote
>beneficial microbial activity.
>Resists leaching. Environmentally friendly.
>Thanks to its slow-release formula, Milorganite stays in the root zone. A
>recent University of Wisconsin-Madison study concludes that there is less
>nitrogen and phosphorus in the runoff water from Kentucky bluegrass
>fertilized with Milorganite than from the same turf that received no
>fertilizer at all. So there's no need to worry about groundwater or well
>contamination. Even with frequent watering. Even on sandy soils.
>MILORGANITE MEETS THE STRICTEST ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS IN THE
>Milorganite is registered as a fertilizer product throughout the United
>States, Canada, and in several countries overseas. It is subject to the
>same rules and regulations with respect to guaranteed analysis and
>labeling as all other commercially available fertilizer products, and in
>the U.S., registration is done annually with each state Department of
>Agriculture. However, because Milorganite is a by-product of a wastewater
>treatment process, it must meet additional quality and safety standards
>not imposed on traditional fertilizers, and is further regulated by the
>U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Environmental regulatory
>agencies of individual states.
>In the 1970's, Congress charged the EPA with the responsibility of
>developing rules and regulations for the disposal of biosolids obtained
>from wastewater treatment under the Reauthorization of the Clean Water
>Act. At that time, disposal was largely unregulated and the options for
>disposal were limited to incineration, landfill, land application, and
>direct disposal to the ocean, especially on the East Coast. Needless to
>say, disposal options most commonly used carried a highly negative
>perception. In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as
>well as input from a number of universities across the country, a massive
>research effort was launched to determine just how extensive this
>environmental problem was. After 15 years of extensive research, examined
>by an esteemed Peer Review Committee comprised of the leading experts in
>the fields of soil science, crop production and fertility, as well as
>several members of the Environmental Community such as the National R!
> esource Defense Council, attitudes changed drastically. The research was
> completed in the late 1980's, and in 1992, the EPA promulgated 40 CFR
> Part 503. Part 503 outlines standards and criteria for a number of
> disposal options for biosolids, including the category of land
> application within which products such as Milorganite are regulated.
>Primary concern with respect to disposal of biosolids such as Milorganite
>in a land application scenario as a soil amendment to cropland, or when
>used as a fertilizer product for lawns, gardens, parks, golf courses,
>etc., centered around heavy metals and pathogens. The extensive research
>conducted in the development of 40 CFR Part 503 established concentration
>limits of metals, as well as pathogen controls which posed "no reasonable
>threat to human health or the environment." The most stringent level of
>standards within 40 CFR Part 503 offering the highest level of safety was
>termed "Exceptional Quality Standards." This criteria establishes strict
>concentration limits of heavy metals, pathogen reduction and vector
>attraction standards. Products which meet the EPA's "Exceptional Quality
>Standards" require no further level of regulation and are free to move
>into commerce just as any other fertilizer product, subject to all the
>regulations imposed in the fertilizer industry. In!
> fact, the EPA strongly encourages beneficial reuse programs for
> biosolids, such as the Milorganite program.
>With respect to Milorganite, the heat drying process effectively kills all
>pathogens, as discussed in the Production section. Additionally, the
>drying process yields a final product which is stable and at only 5%
>moisture, does not attract disease carrying vectors such as rodents or
>flies. Milorganite easily meets all of the "Exceptional Quality Standards"
>as established by the U.S. EPA. Therefore, there are no environmental
>restrictions with respect to the use of Milorganite.
>It is interesting to note three significant facts. First, all fertilizer
>products of which we are aware have detectable levels of heavy metals.
>Second, many fertilizer products have metal concentrations not only in
>excess of Milorganite, but could not meet the same environmentally
>stringent criteria as those imposed on Milorganite. However, they are not
>regulated under 40 CFR Part 503. Finally, several heavy metals are, in
>fact, essential plant nutrients without which plants would either grow
>abnormally or die. Specifically, zinc, copper, and molybdenum are
>essential nutrients, yet regulated under 40 CFR Part 503. Many
>commercially available micronutrient packages used to correct nutrient
>deficiency symptoms well exceed the "Exceptional Quality Standards."
>A common question posed to us revolves around how Milwaukee controls heavy
>metal concentrations, and is able to keep them constant. Milwaukee is
>acknowledged throughout the country as having the most developed
>monitoring and sampling program, as well as the most progressive
>pretreatment program. Milwaukee, through a stringent permitting process,
>imposes discharge limits on regulated metals. These limits are constantly
>monitored and vigorously enforced.
>Additionally, with respect to Milorganite, product samples are taken daily
>and composited weekly for analysis to demonstrate compliance with the 40
>CFR Part 503 Regulations. Further extensive laboratory analysis is
>conducted to ensure safety, product quality, and to monitor any other
>contaminants, such as organic compounds, for compliance with the State of
>Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requirements. We are quite proud
>of our compliance record with all environmental regulations imposed on
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