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Occurrence, temporal variation, and estrogenic burden of five parabens in sewage sludge collected across the United States

Chen, Jing, Pycke, Benny F.G., Brownawell, Bruce J., Kinney, Chad A., Furlong, Edward T., Kolpin, Dana W., Halden, Rolf U.
The Science of the total environment 2017 v.593-594 pp. 368-374
biosolids, drugs, estradiol, land application, monitoring, personal care products, preservatives, risk assessment, seasonal variation, sewage sludge, wastewater treatment, United States
Five parabens used as preservatives in pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) were measured in sewage sludges collected at 14 U.S. wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) located in nine states. Detected concentration ranges (ng/g, dry weight) and frequencies were as follows: methyl paraben (15.9 to 203.0; 100%), propyl paraben (0.5 to 7.7; 100%), ethyl paraben (<0.6 to 2.6; 63%), butyl paraben (<0.4 to 4.3; 42%) and benzyl paraben (<0.4 to 3.3; 26%). The estrogenicity inherent to the sum of parabens detected in sewage sludge (ranging from 10.1 to 500.1pg/kg 17β-estradiol equivalents) was insignificant when compared to the 106-times higher value calculated for natural estrogens reported in the literature to occur in sewage sludge. Temporal monitoring at one WWTP provided insights into temporal and seasonal variations in paraben concentrations. This is the first report on the occurrence of five parabens in sewage sludges from across the U.S., and internationally, the first on temporal variations of paraben levels in sewage sludge. Study results will help to inform the risk assessment of sewage sludge destined for land application (biosolids).