This is just disgusting. With all the gardening going on in the Bay Area, especially gardening programs at schools, should we be asking about the compost municipalities give away? Considering the following, yes!
When San Francisco, one of the greenest cities in America, offered its residents free compost, many were excited to take it. After all, purchasing enough compost for even a small 10 x 10-foot garden can cost over $50, and generating one's own compost in high enough quantities for such a garden takes a long time.
Few of the gardeners who lined up to receive the free compost at events like last September's Big Blue Bucket Eco-Fair suspected that the 20 tons of free bags labeled "organic biosolids compost" actually contained sewage sludge from nine California counties. On Thursday, March 4, angry San Franciscans returned the toxic sludge to the city, dumping it at Mayor Gavin Newsom's office in protest.
Sewage sludge is the end product of the treatment process for any human waste, hospital waste, industrial waste and -- in San Francisco -- stormwater that goes down the drain....
When confronted by angry gardeners who had been duped into applying toxic sludge to their gardens, city and state authorities defended their actions. The California Association of Sanitation Agencies insisted that because San Francisco has "virtually no industrial facilities within its borders or sewer service area," the waste was not a combination of "industrial, commercial, hospital, and household wastewater." But, according to Organic Consumers Association, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has documented the following in San Francisco sludge alone: p-Isopropyltoluene (an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of paint, furniture, etc); 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, a disinfectant, deodorant and pesticide; Tolulene (an aromatic hydrocarbon widely used as an industrial feedstock and as a solvent); 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene (a product of petroleum refinery distillation); and Phenol (used in the manufacture of drugs, antiseptics, nylon and other synthetic fibers).