Occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products within sewage sludge and sludge-enriched soils

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Resource or Project Abstract

The potential threat of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) to the environment has emerged as a topic of concern in recent years. To date, there exists a dearth of analytical methods to empirically determine their occurrence in solid media. This 3-year research and development project focused on a number of topics surrounding the exposure of the terrestrial environment to pharmaceuticals through land spreading of municipal biosolids (sludges) on agricultural land. More specifically, the aims of the project were: - To identify which PPCPs may occur at significant levels in waste-water treatment sludges - To develop robust analytical methods for soil and sludge analysis - To compare any occurrence data with those from a European case study -To determine the solid-water partition coefficient for all compounds in aqueous sewage sludge and soil suspensions - To model sorption data in order to identify preferred sorption modes in the environment - To assess the mobility of such compounds in sewage sludge amended soils after exposure to rainfall. It is clear from the results generated during this project that PPCPs are indeed present in the solid environment and that their ecotoxicological effects need to be substantially further addressed. Principally, the main conclusion is that, depending on molecular affinity for the solid compartments, certain PPCPs may persist beyond the waste-water treatment process and may even concentrate in biosolids. Therefore, a new set of selection criteria for these PPCPs is critical in assessing any risk to the environment and for implementation of any monitoring strategies. Certainly, sales and usage data may assist in identification of those compounds warranting further study, but sales and occurrence data are obviously not proportionally related. Obviously, if a PPCP is not consumed in a country, then it could be considered of minimal or no risk by process of elimination. That said, compounds that are consumed in lesser yearly amounts may still display concentration ability in solids over those products sold in considerably higher quantities. Therefore, an evaluation of Kd for all PPCPs sold in Ireland is indeed desirable, however impractical.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Leon Barron
King's College London

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_34_Barron_PCPs_prn.pdf  (3.16 Mb)
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_34_Barron_PCPs_web.pdf  (1.93 Mb)
Att: 3    STRIVE_34_PPCPs_Summary_Findings.pdf  (0.29 Mb)

Suggested Citation Information

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Author(s)Barron, L.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationOccurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products within sewage sludge and sludge-enriched soils
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=711a6f9f-8df7-102d-ba42-8e912b2741d0
Unique Identifier711a6f9f-8df7-102d-ba42-8e912b2741d0
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-25

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Barron, L.   "Occurrence and fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products within sewage sludge and sludge-enriched soils". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=711a6f9f-8df7-102d-ba42-8e912b2741d0 (Last Accessed: 2024-06-25)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=162
Resource KeywordsPPCP pharmaceuticals sludge waste-water digested sludges soils sewage
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2005-FS-30-M1
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeWaste and Resource Management
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceThere is no data attached to this resource. However further usage of the reports in any significant way should be properly cited or acknowledged in any further publications. A citation is provided below
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 3
Project Start Date Saturday 1st January 2005 (01-01-2005)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 1st January 2006 (01-01-2006)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Sunday 31st December 2006 (31-12-2006)
Published on SAFERWednesday 31st March 2010 (31-03-2010)
Date of Last EditWednesday 31st March 2010 at 10:37:45 (31-03-2010)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 31st March 2010 at 10:31:58 (31-03-2010)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
Digested sludge samples were taken from two WWTPs by sampling directly from the sludge digestion tanks or from final product silos into sealed storage bags and were frozen immediately until analysis. The first sampling site was located in Leixlip, Co. Kildare, with an average waste-water turnover of 3 × 107 l/day at the time of sampling, ~7,000 t/year digested sludge turnover for 2006 and a population equivalent (PE) of 80,000. This plant only consists of primary and secondary treatment services and resultant sludges are spread on forestry land after digestion (~17-21% dry solids). This matrix was used for analytical method validation. The second Irish sampling site at Ringsend, Dublin, handles an average waste-water throughput of 5 × 108 l/day and serves a PE of ~1.7 million. This plant consists of permanent primary and secondary waste-water treatment processes. The location of the plant with respect to many Blue Flag beaches requires temporary tertiary UV treatment of effluent waste waters and this is performed only during the recreational bathing season from May to September. Two biosolid fertilisers are available from this facility, which are currently in the trial phase. These comprise hydrolysed and digested sludge cakes, with 26% dry solid content, as well as a second granular product which is subject to further thermal drying at average temperatures of 450C with reported annual yields of ~25,000 t/year and 90% dried solid material. According to one biosolid spreading company, based in Co. Wicklow, which currently serves agricultural land across the province of Leinster, the dried granular biosolids were applied in 2005/2006 typically at 3.3 t/ha and the sludge cake at 11 t/ha. During this time ~45% was for grassland and 55% for tillage. There are currently no available data on the PPCP residue content within this fertiliser in either form. Samples of digested sludge cake and thermally treated biosolids from Scandinavia were taken from five WWTP sites in 2007 and served the following PEs: - Site 1: Sweden (PE: 23,000) - Site 2: Sweden (PE: 50,000) - Site 3: Sweden (PE: 20,000) - Site 4: Norway, Bekkelaget (PE: 350,000) - Site 5: Norway, Arendal (PE: 40,000).

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

In this section some supplementary information about this resource is outlined. Lineage information helps us to understand why this project was carried out, what policy or research requirements did it fulfil, etc. Lineage is important in understanding the rationale behind the carrying out of a project or the collection of a specific dataset etc. Links to web sites, applications, papers, etc are outlined to provide you with additional information or supplementary reading about the project or dataset

Lineage information about this project or dataset
The Oslo Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) provides the current European legislation on the protection of the North-East Atlantic marine environment. The Convention regulates standards on eutrophication, release of hazardous and radioactive substances, and oil and gas industries. OSPAR provides a list of priority chemicals that are considered harmful to the environment due to their PBT. To date, the OSPAR convention stands alone as the only regulatory body to consider pharmaceuticals as a threat to the environment The legislation in Ireland pertaining to waste-water treatment and management was entered into Irish law under the EU Directive 91/271/EEC. This Directive included the Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992 and the Urban Waste Water Treatment Regulations, 1994, which provide the policies and standards that must be upheld in the treatment of waste water. The treatment plant itself is protected under the 1992 Act, which ensures monitoring of influents so that the performance of the plant is not affected (Environmental Protection Agency, 1997).
Supplementary Information
A total of 61 PPCPs were chosen to encompass a wide variety of therapeutic classes specifically deriving from antibiotics, analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), beta blockers, antipsychotics and illicit drugs of abuse. Many of these compounds were chosen based on sales data for the Republic of Ireland (Irish Medicines Board) and Norway. Antibiotics were of particular concern and a selection of 14 compounds antibacterials, bacteriostatics and antifungals covering sulfonamides, macrolides, fluoroquinolones were included.

Severaal other researchers were involved in the compiliation of this report and the related research. These include

Brett Paull (Principal Investigator) DCU Ireland,
Josef Havel, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
Kevin V. Thomas, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
John Tobin, School of Biotechnology, DCU Ireland
Links To Other Related Resources
  http://www.ospar.org (Opens in a new window)

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