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Browsing by Subject "nutrient recycling"

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  • Äystö, Lauri (2014)
    Sewage treatment plants produce circa 150 000 dry tons of sewage sludge in Finland each year. Sewage sludge contains a great amount of organic matter and nutrients but also a wide variety of harmful substances such as persistent organic pollutants and pharmaceuticals. Sewage sludge is waste material that must be properly disposed of. While more efforts are made to close nutrient cycles, the use of sewage sludge in agriculture has become a more attractive option also in Finland. In this study it was assessed whether or not organic contaminants present in sewage sludge may prove to be a problem for sludge applications in Finnish agriculture. The study was performed using mathematical models and data collected from literature. 34 different organic contaminants were selected and their accumulation into agricultural soil was simulated assuming that sludge was applied yearly. In addition, leaching was simulated for seven of the compounds. The simulated concentrations in soil and drain water were compared to predicted no effect concentrations (PNEC) given for each compound. Compound-specific data on each substances' behavior in soil environment and concentrations in sewage sludge was collected from literature. Because the data given in different sources varied, simulations were run for each compound using combinations of different values. For each compound 3–23 simulations were run. Simulations were performed with two models developed for simulating pesticide behavior in agricultural soils, PECsoil-calculator and MACRO 5.2. Finnish data on weather and soil properties were used in the simulations. For many compounds the simulated concentrations in soil and water were in the range of concentrations measured in field trials. According to the simulations, the most problematic compounds present in sludge are triclosan, 17α-ethinylestradiol, ibuprofen and carbamazepine. Triclosan and 17α-ethinylestradiol were the only compounds that exceeded their PNECsoil-values. Persistent organic pollutants such as PFAS- and PBDE-compounds accumulated into the soil very efficiently but did not exceed their PNECsoil-values. Leaching to sub-surface drains and below them was a significant end-point for carbamazepine and ibuprofen. These compounds did not exceed their PNECwater-values. However, the highest yearly average concentration in drain water simulated for ibuprofen exceeded the environmental quality standard proposed for it. The peak concentration in drain water simulated for triclosan was circa 70 times higher than its PNECwater-value. The compound-specific values used in the simulations contained a lot of variation. This increases the uncertainty of the results. However, the simulations demonstrate that based on current knowledge the agricultural use of sewage sludge may in some extreme cases cause harm for the environment.