Sewage Sludge in Agriculture
There is an EU directive seeking to regulate the use of sewage sludge in agriculture in order to prevent its
harmful effects. There are maximum values of concentration of heavy metals. Spreading of sewage sludge is banned when the concentration exceeds values.
Sewage sludge may be used provided it is regulated. EU directive lays down limit values for concentrations of heavy metal in soil and in sludge and the maximum annual quantities of heavy metals that may be introduced into the soil.
The introduction of sewage sludge is prohibited if the concentration of the heavy metals exceeds the maximum values. Member states must take steps to ensure that the limit values are not exceeded as a result of the use of sludge.
Sludge must be treated before being used in agriculture. States may authorise the use of untreated sludge if it is injected or worked into the soil
Use of sludge is prohibited
- on grassland or forage crops if it is to be grazed or the forage crops are to be harvested before a certain time is elapsed
- on fruit and vegetable crops during the growing season except for fruit trees
- on ground intended for the cultivation of fruit and vegetable crops which normally have direct contact with soil and normally eaten raw for a period of 10 months during the harvest, preceding the harvest, and during the harvest.
Sludge and soil in which it is used must be sampled and analyzed. Records must be kept. They must register the
- quantities of sludge produced and supplied in agriculture
- Composition and properties of the sludge
- Type of treatment carried out
- Name and address of recipients of sludge and places where it is used,
Member states must produce a report to the Commission on the use of sludge in agriculture specifying quantities, criteria followed, and any difficulties encountered.
Hazardous Waste in Water
A 2010 Directive makes requirements for protection of the health of the general public in relation to radioactive waste in water intended for human consumption.
There are parametric values for substances such as radon or tritium. National authorities must monitor them by carrying out a regular sampling of drinking water at frequent intervals, depending on the volumes involved.
The legislation applies to all water for human consumption. It includes water, either in its original state or after treatment which is intended for cooking, drinking, preparation of food or other domestic purposes regardless of where it comes from and whether it is supplied through mains, water tanks, bottles or container.
The legislation applies also to water used by businesses to manufacture, process, preserve or market food for human consumption unless national authorities consider that the quality of the water is of sufficiently high standard that it does not affect the safety of the final food product concerned.
The legislation does not apply to the natural mineral waters or to water considered to be medicinal products. They are separately regulated.
When potential health danger is identified, appropriate advice must be given to the general public of the possible risks and of any extra precautionary measures that may be needed. Action must be taken quickly to ensure that water is brought back to the necessary standards.
A 2007 Regulation balance the placing in the market, importing and exporting into the community of cat and dog for products containing their fur. Exceptional derogations may be allowed. By end of 2008, States have to inform the Commission of the analytical methods used to identify the species of origin of fur. The commission may adopt measures establishing analytical methods to be used in this regard.
Water pollution from agricultural nitrates
Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources aims to reduce water pollution from nitrates used for agricultural purposes and to prevent any further pollution. It is closely linked to other EU policies which address air and water quality, climate change and agriculture.
EU countries must:
- designate as vulnerable zones all those draining into waters which are or could be affected by high nitrate levels and eutrophication. The designation is reviewed and possibly revised at least every 4 years to take account of any changes that occur;
- establish mandatory action programmes for these areas, taking into account available scientific and technical data and overall environmental conditions;
monitor the effectiveness of the action programmes;
- test the nitrate concentration in fresh ground and surface water at sampling stations, at least monthly and more frequently during flooding;
- carry out a comprehensive monitoring programme and submit every 4 years, a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Directive.
The report includes information on nitrate-vulnerable zones, results of water monitoring, and a summary of the relevant aspects of codes of good agricultural practices and action programmes;
draw up a code of good agricultural practice which farmers apply on a voluntary basis. It sets out various good practices, such as when fertiliser use is inappropriate;
provide training and information for farmers, where appropriate.
The European Commission provides a report every 4 years on the basis of the national information it has received.