26 May 1995

Sludge curbs in the pipeline

GOVERNMENT may curb the use of animal manure to prevent soil contamination from toxic heavy metals.

The Department of Environment is considering the move after a review of its code of practice on sludge use in agriculture. The review recommends that government "investigate and if necessary control heavy metal inputs from animal manures, other waste materials and products to protect soil fertility".

It has already decided to revise its sludge code and reduce the advisory limit for zinc. But lead, cadmium and copper limits are adequate. The code aims to ensure there is no health risk to humans, livestock or crops from these potentially toxic metals in sludge.

&#8226 The National Rivers Authority reports a reduction of more than 50%in the level of metal contaminants entering the sea between 1985-93. Similar falls have not been achieved in contamination from pesticides and nutrients.