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Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in U.S. Sewage Sludges and Biosolids: Temporal and Geographical Trends and Uptake by Corn Following Land Application

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journal contribution
posted on 22.02.2016, 05:21 by Robert C. Hale, Mark J. La Guardia, Ellen Harvey, Da Chen, Thomas M. Mainor, Drew R. Luellen, Lakhwinder S. Hundal
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) have been used extensively to flame-retard polymers and textiles. These persistent chemicals enter wastewater streams following manufacture, use, and disposal, concentrating in the settled solids during treatment. Land application of stabilized sewage sludge (known as biosolids) can contribute PBDEs to terrestrial systems. Monitoring sludge/biosolids contaminant burdens may be valuable in revealing trends in societal chemical usage and environmental release. In archived Chicago area sludges/biosolids from 1975 to 2008, penta-BDE concentrations increased and then plateaued after about 2000. Penta-BDE manufacture in the United States ended in December 2004. Deca-BDE concentrations in biosolids rose from 1995 to 2008, doubling on a 5-year interval. Evaluation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey data from 2006 to 2007 revealed highest penta-BDE biosolids levels from western and lowest from northeastern wastewater treatment plants (2120 and 1530 μg/kg, respectively), consistent with patterns reported in some recent indoor dust and human blood studies. No significant regional trends were observed for deca-BDE concentrations. Congener patterns in contemporary Chicago biosolids support the contention that BDE-209 can be dehalogenated to less brominated congeners. Biosolids application on agricultural fields increased PBDE soil concentrations. However, corn grown thereon did not exhibit measurable PBDE uptake; perhaps due to low bioavailability of the biosolids-associated flame retardants.