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Keywords:

  • organic chemicals;
  • soils;
  • transport and fate;
  • biosolids;
  • crops;
  • field dissipation

Abstract

In 2007, a 1.5-year field-scale study was initiated by the U.S. Geological Survey to evaluate the dissipation of contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) following a first agronomic biosolids application to nonirrigated farmland. CECs with the greatest decrease in concentration in the surface biosolids at 180 days post-application included indole, d-limonene, p-cresol, phenol, and skatol. CECs that were present in the largest concentration in 180-day-weathered biosolids included stanols, nonylphenols, bisphenol A, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, hexahydrohexamethyl cyclopenta-benzopyran (HHCB), and triclosan. CECs that were detected in pre-application soil were 3-beta coprostanol, skatol, acetophenone, beta-sitosterol, beta-stigmastanol, cholesterol, indole, p-cresol, and phenol, most of which are biogenic sterols or fragrances that have natural plant sources in addition to anthropogenic sources, yet their concentrations increased (in some cases, substantially) following biosolids application. Preliminary data indicate the nonylphenols (including NPEO1, NPEO2), OPEO1, benzo[a]pyrene, diethyl phthalate, d-limonene, HHCB, triclosan, and possibly 3-beta coprostanol, skatol, beta-sitosterol, cholesterol, indole, and p-cresol, migrated downward through the soil by 468 days post-application, but indicated little uptake by mature wheat plants. This study indicates that some CECs are sufficiently persistent and mobile to be vertically transported into the soil column following biosolids applications to the land surface, even in semiarid regions.