2019 - Microbial community characterization and pharmaceuticals analysis of agricultural soils irrigated with calcium hydroxide (lime)-treated urine from the Grow Food Northampton Community Garden in Florence, Massachusetts

Grant Award Year: 
Principal Investigator: 
David Reckhow
Caitlyn Butler
Om Parkash Dhankher
Research Description: 
Source separation of human urine and its subsequent application is an area of intense interest across the US. The Grow Food Northampton (GFN) Community Garden in Florence, Massachusetts recently obtained approval from the Northampton Board of Health to augment the urine treatment process which is part of their composting outhouse sanitation system. This change includes treating urine with lime (calcium hydroxide) to raise the pH to a level that stabilizes nitrogen and kills pathogens. Little research has been conducted to test the fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) after this type of urine treatment, nor have others looked at what effects this type of urine fertilizer might have on the soil microbial community after application. The GFN garden managers are interested in collaborating with UMass researchers to explore this knowledge gap.