Sources and behaviour of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) in Spanish sewage sludge

A De la Torre, E Alonso, M A Concejero, P Sanz, M A Martínez
Waste Management 2011, 31 (6): 1277-84
Presence, sources and behaviour of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) were evaluated in Spanish sewage sludge. A total of 120 samples were seasonally collected from October 2005 to September 2006 at 31 urban wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). Concentrations of PBDEs (ranging between 57.5 and 2606 ng/g dry weight) were two to three orders of magnitude higher than those obtained for PCDDs (0.17-5.03 ng/g d.w.) and PCDFs (0.05-3.07 ng/g d.w.). All the samples presented International Toxicity Equivalents (I-TEQ) levels (ranging between 2.06 and 44.4 ng/kg d.w.) below the limit values proposed by European Union for land application. Congener patterns evaluation revealed that the use of Deca-BDE commercial mixture seems to be the major source of PBDEs in the sludge. Nevertheless, origin of PCDD/Fs should be related to atmospheric deposition, faeces and presence of PCDD/Fs precursors such as pentachlorophenol in the sludge. No correlations (p>0.05) were found between pollutant concentrations (PBDEs and PCDD/Fs) and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) characteristics (capacity nor sludge rate). Lower levels of PBDEs and PCDFs were found in WWTPs using biological nitrogen and phosphorous elimination, suggesting that these compounds are susceptible of microbial elimination. According to our knowledge, this is the first work comparing together both PBDEs and PCDD/Fs sludge patterns.

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