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Open Access Impact of Biosolids Recycling on Groundwater Resources

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Using the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (U.S. EPA) Multimedia, Multi-pathway, Multi-receptor Exposure and Risk Assessment (3MRA) technology, a computer-based biosolids groundwater risk characterization screening tool (RCST) was developed. The objective of this study was to apply the RCST to characterize the potential human health risks associated with exposure to biosolid pollutants. RCST application to two Virginia biosolids land application sites predicted that pollutant concentrations as large as ten times the current regulatory limit could be safely applied to land with no apparent human health effects associated with groundwater consumption. Only under unrealistically high biosolids application rates and pollutant concentrations were the public health risks associated with groundwater impairment characterized as significant (hazard quotient >= 1.0). For example, when the biosolids land application rate was increased to 900 Mg/ha and the pollutant concentrations were increased to ten times the legal limit, the hazard quotient value ranged from 1.27 (zinc) to 248.19 (selenium).

Keywords: biosolids; groundwater; hazard quotient; risk characterization

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2013

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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