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Assessing the risk associated with the presence of emerging organic contaminants in sludge-amended soil: A country-level analysis

Thomaidi, Vasiliki S., Stasinakis, Athanasios S., Borova, Viola L., Thomaidis, Nikolaos S.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.548-549 pp. 280-288
acute toxicity, caffeine, case studies, chemical analysis, edaphic factors, illicit drugs, monitoring, ofloxacin, perfluorocarbons, phenolic compounds, risk, risk assessment, sewage sludge, sewage treatment, siloxanes, soil, Greece
Greece was used as case study and the environmental risk associated with the existence of 99 emerging organic contaminants (EOCs) in sludge-amended soil was estimated using risk quotient (RQ) approach. Data on the concentration levels of EOCs in sewage sludge was collected after literature review. Chemical analyses were also conducted for 50 pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in sludge samples from Athens Sewage Treatment Plant. Risk assessment was based on both terrestrial and aquatic acute toxicity data, using both the maximum and the average measured concentrations of the target compounds. EC50/LC50 values were collected through literature review or using the ECOSAR program in cases that experimental values were not available. Triclosan seems to pose an environmental risk on the soil environment, as its RQ values exceeded 1, both in terrestrial and aquatic toxicity data based risk assessment. Calculations based on aquatic toxicity data showed that another eleven compounds had RQs higher than 1, most of them belonging to the classes of synthetic phenolic compounds and siloxanes. Tetradecamethylhexasiloxane presented the highest RQ, while high RQs were also calculated for decamethylcyclopentasiloxane and caffeine. No environmental risk for the terrestrial environment is expected due to the individual action of illicit drugs, perfluorinated compounds and benzotriazoles. The sludge source and the day of sampling affected the estimated threat due to nonylphenolic compounds; however these factors did not affect the estimated risk for siloxanes, caffeine and ofloxacin. Calculation of RQ values for the mixture of EOCs, using either the maximum or the average concentrations, far exceeded 1 (253 and 209, respectively), indicating a presumable threat for the terrestrial environment due to the baseline toxicity of these compounds. Countries that reuse sludge for agricultural purposes should include specific EOCs in national monitoring campaigns and study more thoroughly on their effects to the terrestrial environment.