A survey of organic pollutants in the South African sewage sludges.
A comprehensive literature survey looking at different aspects of organic contaminants in sewage sludge is incorporated in the thesis. It is clear from the data available that plants do not take up most of the organic pollutants. However, a risk of contamination of the food chain exists when sludge is spread directly onto crops that are to be consumed raw or semi-cooked. The major source of human exposure to sludge-borne organic pollutants is through the consumption of animal products such as meat and milk through the bioaccumulation of compounds such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -furans (PCDD/Fs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This is due to the ingestion of soil and sludge by livestock due to the spreading of sludge on the land used for grazing. Currently little is known about the plant uptake of phthalates and nonylphenols, which are present in relatively high levels in sludge. Included in the literature survey is a list of the most common methods normally used for extraction of organic compounds and the possible methods of analysis. What is noted is that there is no universally accepted and validated analytical method for analysing most of the organic compounds. In addition, data concerning levels of organic pollutants is scarce worldwide. The methods selected for this project were EPA Methods 35IOC (Liquid-liquid extraction) and 3540C (Soxhlet extraction) for the aqueous and solid sewage sludge respectively. These two methods were chosen because they are simple, inexpensive and effective. The chosen purification method was the sulfur clean-up process (EPA Method 3660B). This is because sulfur precipitates were observed in most of the concentrated extracts, especially from the solid samples. A total of 109 samples from 78 sewage works were extracted, using Soxhlet extraction for solids and liquid-liquid extraction for liquid samples. All the extracts were analysed using GC-MS. The identification of the organic compounds was made possible by the use of GC-MS Wiley library. A total of 712 organic compounds were identified in the South African sewage sludge. These included Phenols, Pesticides, PAHs, Phthalates, PCBs, Furans, Amines, Aldehydes, Esters, Acids, Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, Alcohols, Hydrocarbons and Others (all sorts of organic compounds that did not belong to the named categories). The extraction efficiency and reproducibility using a "clean" sludge matrix was carried out. The results showed that the method chosen for extraction i.e. Soxhlet method had an efficiency of over 80% and the results were reproducible. A total of 14 samples were selected for the quantification of p-cresol, nonylphenol and pesticides listed in the current legislation. The results showed negative results for pesticides, confirming that the pesticides listed in the legislation are not the compounds that need to be regulated as far as organic pollutants are concerned. The reasons for this are most likely due to the fact that most of the pesticides listed are banned or their use is severely restricted. The results for the quantification of p-cresol and nonylphenol, when comparing the liquid and the solid extracts of the liquid sludge, show that 99% of p-cresol is concentrated in the liquid phase. The opposite is true when looking at nonylphenol where 90% of it is trapped in the solid matrix leaving 10% in the liquid phase. It is also noted that liquid sludge contains high concentrations of both p-cresol and nonylphenol when compared to the solid sludge.