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Keywords:

  • Triclosan;
  • Biosolids;
  • Fugacity modeling;
  • Probabilistic risk assessment

Abstract

Triclosan is an antimicrobial compound found in many consumer products including soaps and personal care products. Most triclosan is disposed of down household drains, whereupon it is conveyed to wastewater treatment plants. Although a high percentage of triclosan biodegrades during wastewater treatment, most of the remainder is adsorbed to sludge, which may ultimately be applied to land as biosolids. We evaluated terrestrial ecological risks related to triclosan in land-applied biosolids for soil microbes, plants, soil invertebrates, mammals, and birds. Exposures are estimated using a probabilistic fugacity-based model. Triclosan concentrations in biosolids and reported biosolids application rates are compiled to support estimation of triclosan concentrations in soil. Concentrations in biota tissue are estimated using an equilibrium partitioning model for plants and worms and a steady-state model for small mammals; the resulting tissue concentrations are used to model mammalian and avian dietary exposures. Toxicity benchmarks are identified from a review of published and proprietary studies. The results indicate that adverse effects related to soil fertility (i.e., disruption of nitrogen cycling) would be expected only under “worst-case” exposures, under certain soil conditions and would likely be transient. The available data indicate that adverse effects on plants, invertebrates, birds, and mammals due to triclosan in land-applied biosolids are unlikely. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2010;6:405–418. © 2010 SETAC