Environmental Health - Toxic Substances
Investigations - Emerging Contaminants
Biosolids and products derived from biosolids are a potential source of pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants to the environment. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the United States generate approximately 7 million dry tons of sludge each year. Because this sludge, commonly called biosolids, is rich in plant nutrients, it is frequently applied to soils to fertilize plants and to improve the quality of soil. The mass of biosolids applied to soils is substantial, approaching 3 million dry tons throughout the United States in 1998. These biosolids and biosolids composts are used widely in both residential and commercial landscaping and in row-crop agriculture. Because a variety of pharmaceuticals and other organic chemicals have been found in the wastewater discharged from WWTPs, questions have been raised about the presence of these chemicals in biosolids. The application of municipal biosolids on land may be a widespread source of emerging contaminants to surface and ground water.
USGS scientists and their collaborators are conducting the following projects:
Related Science Feature Articles
Kinney, C.A., Campbell, B.R., Thompson, R., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., Burkardt, M.R., Zaugg, S.D., Werner, S.L., and Hay, A.G., 2012, Earthworm bioassays and seedling emergence for monitoring toxicity, aging and bioaccumulation of anthropogenic waste indicator compounds in biosolids–amended soil: Science of the Total Environment, v. 433, p. 507-515, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.06.097.
Kinney, C.A., Furlong Edward, T., Kolpin Dana, W., Zaugg Steven, D., Burkhardt Mark, R., Bossio Joseph, P., and Werner Stephen, L., 2010, Earthworms--Diagnostic indicators of wastewater derived anthropogenic organic contaminants in terrestrial environments (Chapter 14), in Halden, R.U., ed., Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment--Ecological and Human Health Considerations: American Chemical Society, v. 1048, p. 297-317, ISBN:0-8412-2496-X.
Kinney, C.A., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., Burkhardt, M.R., Zaugg, S.D., Werner, S.L., Bossio, J.P., and Benotti, M.J., 2008, Bioaccumulation of pharmaceuticals and other anthropogenic waste indicators in earthworms from agricultural soil amended with biosolid or swine manure: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 42, no. 6, p. 1863-1870, doi:10.1021/es702304c.
Kinney, C.A., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., Burkhardt, M.R., Zaugg, S.D., Werner, S.L., Bossio, J.P., and Benotti, M.J., 2009, Response to "Comment on 'Bioaccumulation of Pharmaceuticals and Other Anthropogenic Waste Indicators in Earthworms from Agricultural Soil Amended with Biosolid or Swine Manure'": Environmental Science and Technology, v. 43, no. 2, p. 545-547, doi:10.1021/es802721d.
Kinney, C.A., Furlong, E.T., Zaugg, S.D., Burkhardt, M.R., Werner, S.L., Cahill, J.D., and Jorgensen, G.R., 2006, Survey of organic wastewater contaminants in biosolids destined for land application: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 40, no. 23, p. 7207-7215, doi:10.1021/es0603406.
Tindall, J.A., Lull, K.J., and Gaggiani, N.G., 1994, Effects of land disposal of municipal sewage sludge on fate of nitrates in soil, streambed sediment and water quality: Journal of Hydrology, v. 163, no. 1-2, p. 147-185, doi:10.1016/0022-1694(94)90027-2.
Yager, T.J.B., Furlong, E.T., Kolpin, D.W., Kinney, C.A., Zaugg, S.D., and Burkhardt, M.R., 2014, Dissipation of contaminants of emerging concern in biosolids applied to nonirrigated farmland in eastern Colorado: JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, v. 50, no. 2, p. 343-357, doi:10.1111/jawr.12163.
Related Emerging Contaminants Investigations