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Occurrence of polycyclic musks in sewage sludge and their behaviour in soils and plants. Pt.1: Behaviour of polycyclic musks in sewage sludge of different treatment plants in summer and winter

: Müller, J.; Böhmer, W.; Litz, N.T.


Journal of soils and sediments 6 (2006), No.4, pp.231-235
ISSN: 1439-0108
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()

Goal, Scope and Background. Polycyclic Musks (PCMs) enter the environment via the waste water system. Because of their persistence, they can accumulate in different matrices like sewage sludge or biota. By the use of sewage sludge as a fertilizer, PCMs are transferred to agricultural soils. Therefore, in Part 1 of the study, screening tests were performed to investigate the occurrence of PCMs in sewage sludge. For a preliminary risk assessment, further information is needed about their behaviour in the terrestrial environment. Hence, Part 2 of the study examined the adsorption of PCMs to soil, their dissipation and leaching in soil, and their uptake by plants.
Methods. In the screening study, samples of activated sewage sludge were taken both in summer and in winter at 21 treatment plants. In order to get an overview of the contamination situation, sampling covered different types of treatment plants (in rural, urban, industrial areas). Analytical methods for the determination of HHCB, AHTN, ADBI, ATTN, AHDI and ATII in the sludge samples were developed and applied.
Results. The analytical screening of PCMs showed their presence in activated and dried sewage sludge samples. HHCB and AHTN represented about 95% of the PCMs investigated. Their concentrations in the activated sludge samples varied between 2.9 and 10.4 mg/kg dry mass (dm) and 1.1 to 4.2 mg/kd dm, respectively. Although different types of sewage treatment plants were investigated, similar PCM levels were found, showing the widespread input of these compounds into domestic waste water.
Discussion. PCM concentrations in activated sludge varied widely. The variation drops substantially when concentrations are related to the varying dry mass. In dehydrated sludge, PCM concentrations were up to 24 mg/kg dm for HHCB and up to 6.9 mg/kg dm for AHTN. These high values are comparable to those obtained in other investigations analysing PCMs. If the degradation of organic mass during anaerobic decomposition is included in the evaluation, the figures obtained are comparable to those for activated sludge. Elimination in sewage sludge was higher in summer than in winter. Therefore, the contamination of the sludges in winter reached higher levels compared to the summer.
Conclusions. The results show that PCMs are widespread contaminants in sewage sludge.
Recommendations and Perspectives. PCM should be considered in a risk assessment as potential contaminants of sewage sludge destined for agricultural use.
Due to the high PCM levels in sewage sludge, further investigations into the degradation and elimination behaviour in sewage sludge have to be carried out, including that involving PCM metabolites such as lactone derivatives.