Runoff of pharmaceuticals and personal care products following application of biosolids to an agricultural field.
Topp, E., Monteiro, S.C., Beck, A., Ball Coelho, B.R., Boxall, A.B.A., Duenk, P.W., Kleywegt, S., Lapen, D.R., Payne, M., Sabourin, L., Li, H.X., and Metcalfe, C.D. (2008). "Runoff of pharmaceuticals and personal care products following application of biosolids to an agricultural field.", Science of the Total Environment, 396, pp. 52-59. doi : 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.02.011
Municipal biosolids are a source of nutrients for crop production. Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) can be used to minimize the risk of contamination of adjacent water resources with chemical or microbial agents that are of public or environmental health concern. In this field study, we applied biosolids slurry at a commercial rate using either subsurface injection or broadcast application followed by incorporation. Precipitation was simulated at 1, 3, 7, 22, 36 and 266 days post-application on 2 m2 microplots to evaluate surface runoff of 9 model pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), atenolol, carbamazepine, cotinine, gemfibrozil, naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, sulfamethoxazole and triclosan. In runoff from the injected plots, concentrations of the model PPCPs were generally below the limits of quantitation. In contrast, in the broadcast application treatment, the concentrations of atenolol, carbamazepine, cotinine, gemfibrozil, naproxen, sulfamethoxazole and triclosan on the day following application ranged from 70-1477 ng L-1 in runoff and generally declined thereafter with first order kinetics. The total mass of PPCPs mobilized in surface runoff per m2 of the field ranged from 0.63 µg for atenolol to 21.1 µg for ibuprofen. For ibuprofen and acetaminophen, concentrations in runoff first decreased and then increased, suggesting that these drugs were initially chemically or physically sequestered in the biosolids slurry, and subsequently released in the soil. Carbamazepine and triclosan were detected at low concentrations in a runoff event 266 days after broadcast application. Overall, this study showed that injection of biosolids slurry below the soil surface could effectively eliminate surface runoff of PPCPs.