Selected personal care products and endocrine disruptors in biosolids: An Australia-wide survey

Kate A. Langdon, Michael St J Warne, Ronald J. Smernik, Ali Shareef, Rai S. Kookana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Personal care products (PCPs) and endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) are groups of organic contaminants that have been detected in biosolids around the world. There is a shortage of data on these types on compounds in Australian biosolids, making it difficult to gain an understanding of their potential risks in the environment following land application. In this study, 14 biosolids samples were collected from 13 Australian wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to determine concentrations of eight compounds that are PCPs and/or EDCs: 4-t-octylphenol (4tOP), 4-nonylphenol (4NP), triclosan (TCS), bisphenol A (BPA), estrone (E1), 17β-estradiol (E2), estriol (E3) and 17β-ethinylestradiol (EE2). Concentration data were evaluated to determine if there were any differences between samples that had undergone anaerobic or aerobic treatment. The concentration data were also compared to other Australian and international data. Only 4tOP, 4NP, TCS, and BPA were detected in all samples and E1 was detected in four of the 14 samples. Their concentrations ranged from 0.05 to 3.08. mg/kg, 0.35 to 513. mg/kg, < 0.01 to 11.2. mg/kg, < 0.01 to 1.47. mg/kg and < 45 to 370 μg/kg, respectively. The samples that were obtained from WWTPs that used predominantly anaerobic treatment showed significantly higher concentrations of the compounds than those obtained from WWTPs that used aerobic treatment. Overall, 4NP, TCS and BPA concentrations in Australian biosolids were lower than global averages (by 42%, 12% and 62%, respectively) and 4tOP concentrations were higher (by 25%), however, of these differences only that for BPA was statistically significant. The European Union limit value for NP in biosolids is 50. mg/kg, which 4 of the 14 samples in this study exceeded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1081
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jan 2011
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Science of the Total Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Science of the Total Environment, 409:6, (2011) DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.12.013

© 2011, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • 4-Nonylphenol
  • 4-t-Octylphenol
  • Biosolids
  • Bisphenol A
  • Estrogens
  • Triclosan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering


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