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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - SHORT COMMUNICATIONS

Photodegradation of the Endocrine-Disrupting Chemical 4-Nonylphenol in Biosolids Applied to Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 4, p. 1568-1574
    Received: Sept 9, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): kxia@uga.edu
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  1. Kang Xia *a and
  2. Chang Yoon Jeongb
  1. a Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, 3111 Plant Sciences Building, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
    b Department of Renewable Resources, University of Louisiana, P.O. Box 44650, Lafayette, LA 70504


There is increasing concern about the environmental fate and impact of biosolids-associated anthropogenic organic chemicals, among which 4-nonylphenol (4-NP) is one of the most studied chemicals. This is primarily because 4-NP is an endocrine disruptor and has been frequently detected in environmental samples. Due to its high hydrophobicity, 4-NP has high affinity for biosolids. Land application of 4-NP–containing biosolids could potentially introduce large quantities of this chemical into the environment. A laboratory experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of artificial sunlight on 4-NP degradation in biosolids applied to soil. When exposed to artificial sunlight for 30 d, the top-5-mm layer of biosolids showed a 55% reduction of 4-NP, while less than 15% of the 4-NP was degraded when the biosolids were kept in the dark. Our results indicate that sensitized photolysis reaction plays an important role in reducing the levels of 4-NP in land-applied biosolids. Surface application rather than soil incorporation of biosolids could be effective in reducing biosolids-associated organic chemicals that can be degraded through photolysis reactions. However, the risks of animal ingestion, foliar deposition, and runoff should also be evaluated when biosolids are applied on the soil surface.

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