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Keywords:

  • Triclosan;
  • Biosolids;
  • Earthworms;
  • Nitrogen-cycling;
  • Respiration

Abstract

Triclosan (TCS) is a common constituent of personal care products and is frequently present in biosolids. Application of biosolids to land transfers significant amounts of TCS to soils. Because TCS is an antimicrobial and is toxic to some aquatic organisms, concern has arisen that TCS may adversely affect soil organisms. The objective of the present study was to investigate the toxicity and bioaccumulation potential of biosolids-borne TCS in terrestrial micro- and macro-organisms (earthworms). Studies were conducted in two biosolids-amended soils (sand, silty clay loam), following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) guidelines. At the concentrations tested herein, microbial toxicity tests suggested no adverse effects of TCS on microbial respiration, ammonification, and nitrification. The no observed effect concentration for TCS for microbial processes was 10 mg/kg soil. Earthworm subchronic toxicity tests showed that biosolids-borne TCS was not toxic to earthworms at the concentrations tested herein. The estimated TCS earthworm lethal concentration (LC50) was greater than 1 mg/kg soil. Greater TCS accumulation was observed in earthworms incubated in a silty clay loam soil (bioaccumulation factor [BAF] = 12 ± 3.1) than in a sand (BAF = 6.5 ± 0.84). Field-collected earthworms had a significantly smaller BAF value (4.3 ± 0.7) than our laboratory values (6.5–12.0). The BAF values varied significantly with exposure conditions (e.g., soil characteristics, laboratory vs field conditions); however, a value of 10 represents a reasonable first approximation for risk assessment purposes. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:646–653. © 2011 SETAC