Determination of inorganic and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon contents in South African sewage sludges.
A total of 34 sewage sludge samples were collected from South African provinces: KwaZulu- Natal, Gauteng, North West and Western Cape province. The samples were analysed for mineral ions and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The methods used for sample preparation were US-EPA 3050B and 3540C for mineral ions and PAHs respectively. The moisture content was also analysed. A minimum of 4.5 % and maximum of 99.5 % moisture were detected in the samples. The sludge that had stayed longer in their sampling points had low moisture contents than those that were sampled immediately after production. A total of 22-minaral ions were detected in the samples. When these were quantified an abundance trend that was found to be most common was: P>Ca>Fe>Al>Mg>K>Zn>Na>Mn>Cu>Ba>Cr>Pb>Si>Se>Sr>B>Ni>Mo>Co>Cd>Be. Phosphorous was the most abundant mineral ion in most of the samples apart from calcium, which was found to be abundant in a few cases. Comparing these results to the South African guideline limits, it emerges that most of the sewage works are compliant with the guidelines. The mineral ion that was found to be above the set limit in most occasions was selenium. The current South African guidelines were found to compare favourably to those of other countries. In the study 16 PAHs were also analysed, based on frequency of occurrence these were found to be: benzo(b)fluorathene ~ benzo(k fIuoranthene> phenanthrene> acenaphthylene> fluorine> naphthalene> benzo(a)anthracene> chrysene> acenaphthene> benzo(a)pyrene> fluoranthene> anthracene ~ pyrene> benzo(g,h,i)perylene> indeno(l ,2,3-cd)pyrene> dibenzo(a,h)anthracene Dibenzo(a,h)pyrene was below the detection limit in all the samples analysed while benzo(b)fluoranthene and benzo(k)fluoranthene were the most abundant compounds. All the samples analysed had concentration of benzo(a)pyrene below the South African limit of 2.53 mg kg"1. Comparing these guidelines with other international countries, South Africa specifies a single compound for monitoring while in other countries more than one compound is monitored. Thus South African guidelines need to be put in line with those of major EU countries such as Germany and Denmark with respect to PAH limits.