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Use of nuclear receptor luciferase-based bioassays to detect endocrine active chemicals in a biosolids-biochar amended soil

Anderson, Carolyn G., Joshi, Geetika, Bair, Daniel A., Oriol, Charlotte, He, Guochun, Parikh, Sanjai J., Denison, Michael S., Scow, Kate M.
Chemosphere 2017 v.181 pp. 160-167
agricultural soils, bioactive properties, bioassays, bioavailability, biochar, biomass production, biosolids, carbon, carrots, drugs, endocrine system, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, greenhouse experimentation, human health, humans, lettuce, nutrients, organic compounds, personal care products, soil amendments, surface area, temperature, walnuts
Biosolids are a potentially valuable source of carbon and nutrients for agricultural soils; however, potential unintended impacts on human health and the environment must be considered. Virtually all biosolids contain trace amounts endocrine-disrupting chemicals derived from human use of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs). One potential way to reduce the bioavailability of PPCPs is to co-apply biosolids with biochar to soil, because biochar's chemical (e.g., aromaticity) and physical properties (e.g., surface area) give it a high affinity to bind many organic chemicals in the environment. We developed a soil-specific extraction method and utilized a luciferase-based bioassay (CALUX) to detect endocrine active chemicals in a biosolids-biochar co-amendment soil greenhouse study. Both biochar (walnut shell, 900 °C) and biosolids had positive impacts on carrot and lettuce biomass accumulation over our study period. However, the walnut shell biochar stimulated aryl hydrocarbon receptor activity, suggesting the presence of potential endocrine active chemicals in the biochar. Since the biochar rate tested (100 t ha−1) is above the average agronomic rate (10–20 t ha−1), endocrine effects would not be expected in most environmental applications. The effect of high temperature biochars on endocrine system pathways must be explored further, using both quantitative analytical tools to identify potential endocrine active chemicals and highly sensitive bioanalytical assays such as CALUX to measure the resulting biological activity of such compounds.