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Antimicrobials and Other Trace Organics in Biosolids: Effects on soil Microbial Processes and Potential for Endocrine Disruption

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Biosolids are known to contain a range of trace organic constituents that are active against microorganisms (antiseptics and antibiotics) as well as a variety of compounds with known endocrine-disrupting effects. This presentation reports on the results of two studies examining these issues. The first study examined the effects of a widely used antimicrobial compound, triclosan (TCS), on bacterial populations, diversity and activity in biosolid amended soils. The results reveal that elevated concentrations of TCS have significant effects on nitrogen cycling, bacterial populations and microbial diversity. However, addition of biosolids increased bacterial populations, diversity and nitrogen cycling capabilities sufficiently so that the TCS spiked samples were still superior to unamended soils even at the highest TCS concentrations tested (total soil TCS concentration of 50 mg/kg). In the second study, the estrogenic activity of surface runoff from biosolid amended soils during rainfall simulations was increased significantly in biosolid amended soils compared with soil controls containing no biosolids. The majority of this estrogenic activity was related to octylphenol, a byproduct of the degradation of alkylphenol ethoxylate surfactants, although some of the compounds responsible for the estrogenic activity could not be identified. Chemical additives used in sludge treatment may be responsible for the high concentrations of octylphenol in the runoff.

Keywords: Octylphenol; Triclocarban; Triclosan; endocrine disrupting compounds; groundwater; leaching; nitrogen cycle; soil quality; surface runoff; water quality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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