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Hormones, sterols, and fecal indicator bacteria in groundwater, soil, and subsurface drainage following a high single application of municipal biosolids to a field

Gottschall, N., Topp, E., Edwards, M., Payne, M., Kleywegt, S., Russell, P., Lapen, D.R. (2013). Hormones, sterols, and fecal indicator bacteria in groundwater, soil, and subsurface drainage following a high single application of municipal biosolids to a field, 91(3), 275-286. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.10.108

Abstract

A land application of dewatered municipal biosolids (DMB) was conducted on an agricultural field in fall 2008 at a rate of 22Mg dry weight (dw) ha-1. Pre- and post- application, hormone, sterol and fecal indicator bacteria concentrations were measured in tile drainage water, groundwater (2, 4, 6m depth), surface soil cores, and DMB aggregates incorporated in the soil (∼0.2m depth) for a period of roughly 1year post-application. Hormones and sterols were detected up to 1year post-application in soil and in DMB aggregates. Hormone (androsterone, desogestrel, estrone) contamination was detected briefly in tile water samples (22d and ∼2months post-app), at lowngL-1 concentrations (2-34ngL-1). Hormones were not detected in groundwater. Sterols were detected in tile water throughout the study period post-application, and multiple fecal sterol ratios suggested biosolids as the source. Coprostanol concentrations in tile water peaked at >1000ngL-1 (22d post-app) and were still >100ngL-1 at 6months post-application. Fecal indicator bacteria were detected throughout the study period in tile water, groundwater (≤2m depth), soil and DMB aggregate samples. These bacteria were strongly linearly related to coprostanol in tile water (R2>0.92, p<0.05). The limited transport of hormones and sterols to tile drainage networks may be attributed to a combination of the hydrophobicity of these compounds and limited macroporosity of the field soil. This transitory contamination from hormones and sterols is unlikely to result in any significant pulse exposure risk in subsurface drainage and groundwater. © 2012.

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