Wikipedia article on "Reuse of excreta" - ongoing improvements

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Wikipedia article on "Reuse of excreta" - ongoing improvements
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TOPIC: Wikipedia article on "Reuse of excreta" - ongoing improvements

JKMakowka - 18 Feb 2015 00:24
Wikipedia article on "Reuse of excreta" - ongoing improvements
The wikipedia article on excreta reuse could have an section added under the health part about the spread of antibiotic resistance genes. We discussed this here:

(I would add it myself, but the editing options via the mobile version of the wikipedia are to limited to add more than a few sentences and I don't have access to a real computer right now.)
muench - 18 Feb 2015 15:56
Re: Key documents for the sub-category on fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops
Hmmm, interesting suggestion, although I am not sure under which aspect you want to include the antibiotic resistant bacteria theme in the Wikipedia article on reuse of excreta (and giving which reference)? I can't remember seeing a reference that talks about this being a problem when excreta (or wastewater) is reused in agriculture - presumably as the soil acts like a capable barrier for those antibiotic resistant bacteria or the antibiotics themselves? - rather it is a problem when sewage (containing antibiotics or antibiotic-resistant bacteria) is only partially treated or discharged into surface waters untreated?

Wouldn't it therefore perhaps be more important to add this aspect into the Wikipedia page on sewage treatment ( or on sewage ( as it's the sewage, and particularly the untreated or partially treated sewage e.g. in countries like India or China (with rampant, unchecked antibiotics use) that is giving us these headaches of antibiotic-resistant bacteria getting back into our drinking water supplies?

Mind you, perhaps you are thinking of antibiotics also in animal manure which could end up in groundwater (would they (the antibiotics) still be effective though? Would they (the antibiotics and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria "survive" their travel through the soil matrix intact? Could gene transfer take place?).

Note: this is what we currently have about pharmaceutical residues (which antibiotics would fall under) on the reuse of excreta page:

Pharmaceutical residues [edit source | editbeta]
Exreta from humans and farmed animals contain hormones and pharmaceutical residues which could in theory enter the food chain via fertilised crops but are currently not fully removed by conventional wastewater treatment plants anyway and can enter drinking water sources via household wastewater (sewage).[18] In fact, the pharmaceutical residues in the excreta are degraded better in terrestrial systems (soil) than in aquatic systems.[18]

I actually don't know enough about all this, so am looking forward to further inputs and edits on the respective Wikipedia pages by any of you (with good references being provided).
JKMakowka - 18 Feb 2015 20:53
Re: Key documents for the sub-category on fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops
Yes, I thought about it when I came across the pharmaceutical residues section.

However I think there needs to be a clear distinction between those (like hormones) and resistance gene harbouring vectors. The subclinical concentrations of the antibiotics themselves are only a smaller aspect that makes the survival of the gene vectors more likely, but is not necessary for their spread.

I think mentioning these risk in the resuse article makes sense as human and animal feces potentially have a high concentration of these vectors, and by closing the loop one has to try and minimize their spread back into the population.

In the original thread I linked above, I quoted a paper that has some details on resistance gene survival/destruction in compost etc.

Just limiting this to sewerage or its spread into drinking water supplies is a bit short sighted, as resistant bacteria can just as well survive on food produced with re-used excreta and they could also be a risk factor for the workers dealing with the compost etc.
muench - 18 Feb 2015 21:57
Re: Key documents for the sub-category on fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops
OK, then I think the best might be if you (or someone else knowledgeable on this subject) add this information in once you have better access to a computer again because you are far more knowledgeable on this subject than I am, and you have read more about it.

However, I think it is not "fair" to only add it to the excreta reuse page on Wikipedia, but it should also be added to the sewage and sewage treatment plant pages - because I still think the risks there are most likely greater than the risks with reuse activities, or at the very least the same.

Actually most importantly, it should go into the article on antimicrobial resistance which looks very detailed already (James has been one of the editors there):

That page does not mention sewage but a search for the term wastewater (using the wonderful Control+F function which I only recently re-discovered!) led me to this section:

A study the Poudre River (Colorado, United States) implicated wastewater treatment plants, as well as animal-feeding operations in the dispersal of antibiotic-resistance genes into the environment.[63] This research was done using molecular signatures in order to determine the sources, and the location at the Poudre River was chosen due to lack of other anthropogenic influences upstream. The study indicates that monitoring of antibiotic-resistance genes may be useful in determining not only the point of origin of their release but also how these genes persist in the environment. In addition, studying physical and chemical methods of treatment may alleviate pressure of antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment, and thus their entry back into human contact.

So perhaps the best way forward is to insert the additional information that we feel is important in this article, and then to make a reference across to this page from the other pages (reuse of excreta, sewage, sewage treatment plant).

As with anything on Wikipedia, the person or persons who feel most strongly about an aspect should be the first to edit the information.

(which is why today I spent some time linking articles on "peak phosphorus", "sewage sludge treatment" and "plantary boundaries" with the article on reuse of excreta, and adding additional references to it.)

By the way, Trevor told me the other day that for the first time he noticed "Wikipedia" as a referral source when analysing what brings traffic to the SuSanA website. This could be due to all those references that are in the SuSanA library which I have been linking to in various Wikipedia articles. I take this as a very positive sign.
muench - 21 Apr 2017 17:10
Wikipedia article on "reuse of excreta" - ongoing improvements
An update on this 2-year old thread:

I have recently done some work on improving the Wikipedia article on "Reuse of excreta".

Please take a look and tell me what you think:


The editing work was prompted by a new publication from Kim Andersson which I have now included in four places:
Andersson, K., Rosemarin, A., Lamizana, B., Kvarnström, E., McConville, J., Seidu, R., Dickin, S. and Trimmer, C. (2016). Sanitation, Wastewater Management and Sustainability: from Waste Disposal to Resource Recovery. Nairobi and Stockholm: United Nations Environment Programme and Stockholm Environment Institute. ISBN 978-92-807-3488-1

Whenever you publish something important, think about which Wikipedia article might be enriched by adding that publication as a reference. It is easy: Just pull out the key statements from your publication and add them to the article - ensuring that they are phrased in a way that can be understood by lay persons (think of your mother, father, parents-in-law or adult children!). Or look for existing statements in the article that could benefit by an additional citation by adding your publication as a reference.

This is a great way of disseminating your publications further, don't you think?

Further changes I made to the article:
  • I ried to make it clearer that this is about use of organic matter and energy contained in excreta, NOT about the water content (which is dealt with in the Wikipedia article on "reclaimed water":
  • I moved the other, non-fertiliser uses towards the end of the article to make it clear that most of the article is about fertiliser-type uses.

As always, comments and further improvements are welcome!

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