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The predominant legal and regulatory issues currently affecting biosolids management relate to public health. Health issues concern pathogens, bioaerosols and odors. Pathogens, bioaerosols and odors have been implicated in the land application of Class B biosolids. Bioaerosols and odors have been the greatest concern in composting operations. Organic dust at heat drying facilities can affect the respiratory health of workers.

Legal aspects related to biosolids management are:

“Coming to the nuisance” and Right to Farm laws

Dormant Commerce Clause

Preemption legal issues

Sovereign immunity

Product liability

The predominant legal issues related to biosolids management have related to odors, pathogens and bioaerosols.

Odors are the single most important environmental issue in siting Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), biosolids management facilities, and in implementing biosolids management practices. Invariably, the production of odors often arouses health concerns. These health issues relate to chemical or biological agents such as bioaerosols. Much of the difficulty in managing odor issues lies in the subjective nature of odors generally. Current odor regulations are either based on “nuisance” and “quality of life” narrative standards, or numerical-based standards.

As a result of health issues principally concerning the land application of Class B biosolids, there have been numerous bans, restrictions, and legislation. These have occurred predominantly in Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Arizona and California. Several legal actions have resulted in New Hampshire, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, and California. Pathogens and bioaerosols have been the focus of local regulatory restrictions on the land application of biosolids as well as the several legal actions recently taken place.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-01-01

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