142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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Deca-BDE concentrations in pine and cedar needles are correlated with land application of treated sewage sludge

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Steve Wing, PhD , Dept. of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Yasuyuki Akita, PhD , Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Marc Serre, PhD , Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Robert Hale, PhD , Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, Gloucester Pt, VA
Drew Luellen, PhD , Environmental and Aquatic Animal Health, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, VA
Background: Deca-BDE, a polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE)-based flame retardant , is persistent, widespread in the environment, and abundant in treated sewage sludge (TSS) from some wastewater treatment plants.  We evaluated whether concentrations of the primary component congener of deca-BDE, BDE-209, in pine and cedar needle samples were related to proximity to sludge land-application sites.

Methods: We collected pine and eastern cedar needles within 1.5 km of sites where TSS from municipalities A&B was land-applied and comparison areas more than 8 km from application sites. We determined concentrations of BDE-209 using GC/MS.  Linear regression was used to evaluate relationships between concentrations of BDE-209 and proximity to houses, businesses, and quantities of TSS applied considering weather conditions during and following application.

Results: BDE-209 concentrations in TSS grab samples were three orders of magnitude higher in municipality A than B.  Mean BDE-209 concentrations in needle samples were 7.32 ng/g near sludge application sites and 7.58 in comparison areas.  In areas near municipality B application, BDE-209 concentrations were related to the number of buildings within 100 m (R2=0.11) but not to sludge application.  Near municipality A application sites, BDE-209 concentrations were not related to the numbers of buildings but were elevated within 1.2 km of TSS application sites, considering the percent solids, application quantities, and weather conditions (R2=0.13).

Conclusions:  Concentrations of Deca-BDE were elevated in pine needles samples near sites where TSS with high source concentrations was land-applied.  This provides direct evidence that chemical contaminants from TSS land application can migrate into neighboring communities.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the potential for persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals to concentrate in treated sewage sludge. Describe potential sources of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in the environment. Explain how pine needles can be used as passive samplers to estimate off-site migration of particles from land-applied sludge with sufficient concentrations of marker chemicals.

Keyword(s): Air Pollution & Respiratory Health, Rural Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am principle investigator of the NIEHS-funded Community Health Effects of Sewage Sludge study. I have taught environmental and occupational epidemiology for 25 years and published many peer-reviewed articles on topics related to rural health and land application of human and animal wastes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.