Waste to Health- turning pollution into resources
Cleaning Ganga
Lead Article
Lead Poster


Conversion of Sea-water
What is 'Clean'?
Sanitation in Human Habitation
Salt Remediation Honoured

Another View of Sanitation & Health


Ecological Pollution

Nature discourages waste by employing one organism to feed on the waste products of others. It is only when we interfere with nature and reduce its biodiversity that waste becomes evident.

Eco-logic suggests that unpleasant natural mechanisms are nature's ways of warning us about wasted resources. The degree of the nuisance matches the level of waste. This eco-logic has enabled me to formulate the Nitrogen Waste Model, which says that the root cause of most modern problems can be traced to nitrogen waste.

These are the pieces of my model:

Nitrogen is a major plant nutrient. Nature makes it available in a slow-release manner. The earthworm-bacteria-plant ecosystem achieves this most effectively. Residual nitrates, free amino acids and other forms of non-protein nitrogen (NPN) in plants, however, indicate an oversupply (a waste) of nitrogen in the soil.

Crop pests look for such NPN and serve as nature's waste indicators. They scatter the surplus nitrogen on a large area that may be suffering from a nitrogen shortage. Storage pests such as fungi, insects, rats, etc., cull agricultural produce that has NPN.

Eco-logic suggests that such food be destroyed because it could be harmful to man. Sanitation pests, including flies, cockroaches, rats, redworms, potworms, mosquitoes, aquatic weeds, etc., also look for wasted nitrates.

Human and animal diseases, including modern diseases such as cancer, AIDS, Mad Cow Disease, etc., are the result of NPN coming from food, water and foul air. NPN primarily affects the brain and sensory organs such as the eyes, ears, teeth, skin, etc. Modern social problems could also be traced back to NPN pollution in our bodies.

The validity of the above model may necessarily be found in its ability to explain available data. The following points seem to support the Nitrogen Waste Model:

CO2 is the limiting plant nutrient. Plants have to get CO2 from a dilute source (air is about 400 ppm CO2) to build their biomass, which contains about 40% carbon. Nitrogen is less limiting than carbon. Soil nitrogen content can be 5,000 ppm and plants may have between 2-3 percent nitrogen.

Nitrogenous chemical fertilizers seem to work by increasing the nitrate level in the soil. This initiates a corrective action on the part of denitrifying bacteria that can crack even the soil humus, the very basis of soil fertility. CO2 produced during this process boosts crop production. As the soil humus content is reduced, there are reducing returns and increasing pollution of water bodies and food.

Indeed, the increase in pest attacks follows the curve of nitrogenous fertilizer use. Recent trials at the University of Ohio (Phelan, 1994) have established the link between the use of soluble nitrogen and pest attacks.

Lampkin (1990) has given a summary of global research, which provides support for the above model. White (1993), too, provides considerable data on the NPN scavenging ability of plant insects, rats and animals such as rabbits, monkeys, hares, pigs, bats, owls, parrots, kangaroos, etc. These animals eco-logically have prior access to these foods. What they do not consume is good food for us.

Mad Sheep Disease was probably due to the consumption of NPN. Sheep offal, although sterilized, contained NPN and was fed to cows, which may have led to the Mad Cow Disease in Britain. Mad Fish Disease (reported off the Canadian coast) was probably caused by an increase in the nitrate concentration in the sea. Intensive poultry and hog farming also experience NPN problems in the toxic effects of ammonia, another NPN source.

People handling garbage are reported to have a high incidence of tuberculosis and other diseases. People working in the mining industry, using explosives (which contain ammonium nitrate) suffer from several health problems because they breathe air polluted with NPN. In addition, the harmful effects of nitrates and monosodium glutamate (amino acid, a NPN), particularly in babies, are well discussed in the literature. In fact, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), another form of NPN affects the brain and has been used as an anesthetic.

Prof. Duesberg, a noted virologist from the University of California, Berkeley, has published several papers relating drugs such as amyl nitrite to AIDS in the USA. AIDS in Africa and other countries could be due to NPN in food. Milk is often adulterated with urea in developing countries, which may account for an increase in AIDS in these countries. The HIV virus seems to be the fire-fighter that helps to remove NPN from our bodies and does not allow the use of drugs to cure the disease. Increased sexual activity seems to be the natural mechanism for removing NPN from our bodies. The development of a vaccine against HIV would allow an increase in NPN until the next fire-fighter, such as the Ebola virus, takes over.

Food containing protein and no NPN does not become spoiled due to fungi, insects and rats (Bhawalkar, 1997, White, 1993). The quality of nitrogen in our food, thus, is important. The traditional Japanese technique of preserving fish in the soil supports this point. In the old days, fish had a small NPN content. Modern fish can be boiled and washed with water (which has a low NPN content) and stored for a long period without refrigeration or chemical preservatives.

Sanitation problems or pests such as odor, flies, cockroaches, rats, redworms, potworms, mosquitoes and aquatic weeds need NPN (Bhawalkar, 1997). Baker (1931) has reported the use of fly maggots for pathogen control. Even Napoleon's doctor used this therapy. The Wall Street Journal (January 17, 1995) has reported a revival of maggot therapy to cure gangrene in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, California. The antibiotics that had replaced the former maggot therapy have become useless now due to the modern practice of feeding antibiotics regularly to farm animals (to get a better feed conversion ratio).

We have recently discovered the ecoenzymes,similar to those  harnessed by flies and mosquitoes. By integrating these with vermiculture, we are able to produce a special grade of vermicastings that we market as SUJALA.

Using SUJALA is an effective way to prevent fire (pathogen growth) from inviting fire-fighters (flies and mosquitoes).

Nitrosamines are well discussed in cancer literature. The Wheat Grass Therapy by Dr. Ann Wigmore gives support to the above model because sprouting is an effective way of removing NPN. Beans are traditionally sprouted. If consumed directly, they cause gas (due to NPN).

Organic produce has 93% less nitrates and 42% less free amino acids (both are NPN) (Lampkin, 1990). Organic produce, thus, can generally be characterized as having a low NPN content.

The consumption of 4-5 liters of water (with low NPN) per day is an effective technique to flush the body of NPN and is known to help cure several health problems.

Just as with nitrogen, we must reduce our carbon waste so that we do not contribute further to global warming. We can do this in part by promoting on-soil rather than off-soil composting. The latter is wasteful because carbon that is oxidized away from the soil is not available to soil bacteria and earthworms. The CO2 produced in off-soil composting cannot be utilized by growing plants and contributes to global warming. Eco-logic, thus, provides us with an effective tool to understand nature and achieve prosperity by reducing these wastes.

Dr.Uday Bhawalkar



  • Baker et al., (1931) The Treatment of Chronic Osteomyelitis with the Maggot. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Vol XIII.
  • Bhawalkar, U. S. (1997) Vermiculture Ecotechnology, 2nd edition, Bhawalkar Earthworm research institute, Pune,India.
  • Duesberg, P. H. (1995) Infectious AIDS - Have We Been Misled? North Atlantic Books, Berkeley.
  • Lampkin, N. (1990) Organic Farming, Farming Press Books,
  • Ipswich, U. K. Phelan, et al., (1994) Soil Fertility Management and Host
  • Preference by a Corn Pest: A Comparison of Organic and Conventional Chemical Farming, (personal communication.)
  • White, T.C.R. (1993) The Inadequate Environment (Nitrogen and the Abundance of Animals), Springer-Verlag, Berlin.  

With permission from Worm Digest









Bhawalkar Ecological Research Institute (BERI).
All rights reserved.