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Guidance for controlling potential risks to workers exposed to class B biosolids.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-149, 2002 Jul; :1-7
Biosolids are the organic residues resulting from the treatment of commercial, industrial, and municipal wastewater (sewage). One purpose of the treatment is to significantly reduce the concentration of disease-causing organisms (also known as pathogens). Treatment also reduces the attractiveness of the residues to insects, birds, and rodents. The product is a material that can be recycled for uses such as adding organic material to the soil. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established two categories of biosolids: Class A biosolids have undergone treatment to the point where the concentration of pathogens is reduced to levels low enough that no additional restrictions or special handling precautions are required by Federal regulations. If the Class A biosolids meet exceptional quality requirements for metals content, they may be sold in bags and applied in the same way as other soil conditioners such as peat moss. Class B biosolids have undergone treatment that has reduced but not eliminated pathogens. By definition, Class B biosolids may contain pathogens. As a result, Federal regulations for use of Class B biosolids require additional measures to restrict public access and to limit livestock grazing for specified time periods after land application. This allows time for the natural die-off of pathogens in the soil. Whereas EPA rules (40 CFR Part 503) restrict public access to lands treated with Class B biosolids in order to protect public health, these rules do not apply to workers involved with Class B biosolids handling and land application. Workers may come in contact with Class B biosolids during the course of their work. Workers and employers may be well aware of the need for precautions when contacting untreated sewage, but less aware of the need for basic precautions when using Class B biosolids. This document provides information, guidance, and recommendations to employers and employees working with Class B biosolids to minimize occupational risks from pathogens. It does not address other potential safety and health issues such as injuries or exposures to chemicals.
Sewage-treatment; Pathogens; Bacteria; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-exposure; Worker-health; Work-environment; Protective-clothing; Protective-equipment
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Document Type
Numbered Publication
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
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Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-149
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Control Technology and Personal Protective Equipment
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division