WERF to develop protocol for investigating reports of alleged health impacts

Responding to July 2002 NRC report, foundation solicits proposals from researchers to help develop a protocol to allow for collecting, acting on, and maintaining data on reports of alleged health symptoms by people living near municipal wastewater treatment biosolids land application site. The data collected may help answer the question as to whether or not a causal link between biosolids land application, often as fertilizer, and health effects exists...

ALEXANDRIA, VA, July 25, 2005 -- The Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) is soliciting proposals from researchers who can help develop a protocol that will allow for collecting, acting on, and maintaining data on reports of alleged health symptoms by people living near municipal wastewater treatment biosolids land application site. The data collected may help answer the question as to whether or not a causal link between biosolids land application and health effects exists.

Biosolids are defined as "solid or semisolids material obtained from treated wastewater, often used as fertilizer."

This research responds to a July 2002 report from the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences. Although the NRC report found no documented scientific evidence that the part 503 rules have failed to protect public health, it did recommend that U.S. EPA update the scientific basis of regulations governing biosolids, improve knowledge of chemicals and pathogens, and evaluate concerns about health effects and exposure. WERF will play a role in helping to fill these scientific gaps and will provide its findings to U.S. EPA.

The WERF funding for Phase 1 of this program is $150,000. The complete research program includes the development of a protocol (Phase 1), the pilot testing and refinement of the protocol (Phase 2), and a methodology for its implementation and use by the appropriate agencies (Phase 3). The funding amounts for Phases 2 and 3 will be established while Phase 1 is underway.

The successful proposal team will be the contractor for all phases of the project. Proposers are expected to demonstrate their qualifications relevant to all three phases in responding to the RFP. This includes technical expertise for all phases and capability to identify and collaborate with appropriate resources (e.g., CDC, U.S. EPA, state health agencies).

WERF has committed nearly $1 million in funding for research related to biosolids this year; an additional $1.5 million in funding has been committed by WERF subscribers and other organizations over the next five years.

This project, along with two other projects WERF has started work on, was ranked highly at the 2003 Biosolids Research Summit, during which a group of nearly 75 individuals representing agencies, conservation groups, wastewater facilities, academia, and citizens identified their most pressing research needs regarding land application of biosolids. Overall, WERF's biosolids research is valued at nearly $20 million.

The Water Environment Research Foundation (www.werf.org) is a nonprofit organization that helps utilities and corporations preserve the water environment and protect human health by providing science and technology research to enhance management of our water resources.

Others who may wish to join. They can do so by contacting werf@werf.org or by visiting our website at www.werf.org/community/email_signup.cfm.

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