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Lobbyists Intent On Rebranding Sewage Sludge as Compost

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If one Washington lobby has its way, sewage sludge will be rebranded as compost, making it easier for crops to be exposed to toxic materials.

Pushing the rebranding effort is the U.S. Composting Council, an organization founded by the makers of disposable diapers. The lobbying group has hired a public relations firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help influence lawmakers, bureaucrats and the public into thinking that compost can safely include medical, industrial and human waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said all sewage sludge contains toxic and hazardous materials, including endocrine disruptors that can affect hormone production in humans. However, whereas the U.S. Department of Agriculture bars the use of sewage sludge in growing foods labeled as organic, the EPA has deemed it a "beneficial fertilizer."

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