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The form and bioavailability of non-ionic organic chemicals in sewage sludge-amended agricultural soils.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date21/06/1996
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages25
Original languageEnglish


The application of sewage sludges to agricultural land may increase the concentrations of many toxic organic chemicals in soils which could have adverse effects on wildlife and human health if these compounds enter foodchains. Chlorobenzenes (CBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD/Fs) are amongst those compounds currently receiving most attention. The ‘form’ in which these, and other organic chemicals, are present in soils and their potential to be lost by various processes including leaching, volatilisation and (bio)degradation is shown to be dependent on the physicochemical characteristics of the soil and sewage sludge, environmental conditions and the properties of the chemicals themselves. The distinction is made between those compounds that are labile, reversibly sorbed and irreversibly sorbed by sewage sludge-amended soils. The implications of the form in which the chemicals are present in soil for their ‘availability’ to transfer from the soil to bacteria, fungi, earthworms, grazing livestock and food crops followed by the potential for further transfers, metabolism or bioaccumulation are discussed. The importance of the timing and method of sewage sludge application to soil on ‘form’ and ‘availability’ are also considered.