Plastics in biosolids from 1950 to 2016: A function of global plastic production and consumption

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Okoffo, E. D., Donner, E., McGrath, S. P., Tscharke, B. J., O’Brien, J. W., O’Brien, S., Ribeiro, F., Burrows, S. D., Toapanta, T., Rauert, C., Samanipour, S., Mueller, J. F. and Thomas, K. V. 2021. Plastics in biosolids from 1950 to 2016: A function of global plastic production and consumption. Water Research. 201 (June 16th), p. 117367. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.117367

AuthorsOkoffo, E. D., Donner, E., McGrath, S. P., Tscharke, B. J., O’Brien, J. W., O’Brien, S., Ribeiro, F., Burrows, S. D., Toapanta, T., Rauert, C., Samanipour, S., Mueller, J. F. and Thomas, K. V.
Abstract

Plastics are ubiquitous contaminants that leak into the environment from multiple pathways including the use of treated sewage sludge (biosolids). Seven common plastics (polymers) were quantified in the solid fraction of archived biosolids samples from Australia and the United Kingdom from between 1950 and 2016. Six plastics were detected, with increasing concentrations observed over time for each plastic. Biosolids plastic concentrations correlated with plastic production estimates, implying a potential link between plastics production, consumption and leakage into the environment. Prior to the 1990s, the leakage of plastics into biosolids was limited except for polystyrene. Increased leakage was observed from the 1990s onwards; potentially driven by increased consumption of polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate and polyvinyl chloride. We show that looking back in time along specific plastic pollution pathways may help unravel the potential sources of plastics leakage into the environment and provide quantitative evidence to support the development of source control interventions or regulations.

KeywordsBiosolids; Plastic production; Plastics; Pyr-GC/MS; Quantification; Sewage sludge; WWTPs
Year of Publication2021
JournalWater Research
Journal citation201 (June 16th), p. 117367
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2021.117367
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeS2N - Soil to Nutrition [ISPG]
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online16 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted10 Jun 2021
PublisherElsevier
ISSN0043-1354

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