Estimating potential risks to terrestrial invertebrates and plants exposed to bisphenol A in soil amended with activated sludge biosolids



Bisphenol A (BPA) is a high production volume substance primarily used to produce polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. During manufacture and use, BPA may enter wastewater treatment plants. During treatment, BPA may become adsorbed to activated sludge biosolids, which may expose soil organisms to BPA if added to soil as an amendment. To evaluate potential risks to organisms that make up the base of the terrestrial food web (i.e., invertebrates and plants) in accordance with international regulatory practice, toxicity tests were conducted with potworms (Enchytraeids) and springtails (Collembolans) in artificial soil, and six plant types using natural soil. No-observed-effect concentrations (NOEC) for potworms and springtails were equal to or greater than 100 and equal to or greater than 500 mg/kg (dry wt), respectively. The lowest organic matter-normalized NOEC among all tests (dry shoot weight of tomatoes) was 37 mg/kg-dry weight. Dividing by an assessment factor of 10, a predicted-no-effect concentration in soil (PNECsoil) of 3.7 mg/kg-dry weight was calculated. Following international regulatory guidance, BPA concentrations in soil hypothetically amended with biosolids were calculated using published BPA concentrations in biosolids. The upper 95th percentile BPA biosolids concentration in North America is 14.2 mg/kg-dry weight, and in Europe is 95 mg/kg-dry weight. Based on recommended biosolids application rates, predicted BPA concentrations in soil (PECsoil) would be 0.021 mg/kg-dry weight for North America and 0.14 mg/kg-dry weight for Europe. Hazard quotients (ratio of PECsoil and PNECsoil) for BPA were all equal to or less than 0.04. This indicates that risks to representative invertebrates and plants at the base of the terrestrial food web are low if exposed to BPA in soil amended with activated sludge biosolids. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:467–475. © 2009 SETAC