Household antiseptic on farm fields
(15 May 2006: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have gotten a lot of attention for passing through conventional sewage treatment plants and winding up in lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Relatively little research, however, has been done on the fate of PPCPs in the millions of tons of sewage sludge now applied to farm fields. Nationally, about 63 percent of sludge produced at sewage treatment facilities is applied to agricultural fields.
Rolf U. Halden and associates at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md., now have begun to fill existing knowledge gaps by studying the concentrations in municipal sludge of triclocarban (TCC). This topical antiseptic is a common ingredient in many antibacterial personal care products, and primarily soaps.
In a report scheduled for the June 1 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, Halden analyzed sewage sludge at a typical activated sludge wastewater treatment plant. Researchers found that conventional sewage treatment left 79 percent of the TCC entering the plant unchanged. About 3 percent of TCC was contained in the effluent, while the majority of the TCC wound up in the sludge.
They estimate that, due to sludge recycling practices, more than 70 percent of the TCC used by consumers served by the plant is ultimately released to the environment by application of sludge to land used in part for food production. TCC in sludge, they note, can potentially accumulate in agricultural crops and may contaminate resources when it runs off or soaks into the soil.
"Partitioning, Persistence, and Accumulation in Digested Sludge of the Topical Antiseptic Triclocarban During Wastewater Treatment."
Environmental Science & Technology (June 1, 2006)
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