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Concentrations of organic contaminants in industrial and municipal bioresources recycled in agriculture in the UK

Rigby, H., Dowding, A., Fernandes, A., Humphries, D., Jones, N. R., Lake, I., Petch, R. G., Reynolds, C. K. ORCID:, Rose, M. and Smith, S. R. (2021) Concentrations of organic contaminants in industrial and municipal bioresources recycled in agriculture in the UK. Science of the Total Environment, 765. 142787. ISSN 0048-9697

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142787


Many types of bioresource materials are recycled in agriculture for soil improvement and as bedding materials for livestock and have potential for transfer into plant and animal foods. Representative types of industrial and municipal bioresources were selected to assess the extent of organic chemical contamination, including: (i) land applied materials: treated sewage sludge biosolids), meat and bone meal ash (MBMA), poultry litter ash (PLA), paper sludge ash (PSA) and compost-like-output (CLO), and (ii) bedding materials: recycled waste wood (RWW), dried paper sludge (DPS), paper sludge ash (PSA) and shredded cardboard. The materials generally contained lower concentrations of polychlorinated dibenzo-pdioxins/dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) relative to earlier reports, indicating the decline in environmental emissions of these established contaminants. However, concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) remain elevated in biosolids samples from urban catchments. Polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans (PBDD/Fs) were present in larger amounts in biosolids and CLO compared to their chlorinated counterparts and hence are of potentially greater significance in contemporary materials. The presence of non-ortho-polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in DPS was probably due to non-legacy sources of PCBs in paper production. Emerging flame retardant compounds, including: decabromodiphenylethane (DBDPE)and organophosphate flame retardants (OPFRs), were detected in several of the materials. The profile of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) depended on the type of waste category; perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) was the most significant PFAS for DPS, whereas perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was dominant in biosolids and CLO. The concentrations of polychlorinated alkanes (PCAs) and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) were generally much larger than the other contaminants measured, indicating that there are major anthropogenic sources of these potentially hazardous chemicals entering the environment. The study results suggest that continued vigilance is required to control emissions and sources of these contaminants to support the beneficial use of secondary bioresource materials.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Animal Sciences > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)- DO NOT USE
ID Code:93962


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