Sewage sludge composting and fate of pharmaceutical residues –recent studies in Estonia
¹Tartu College, Tallinn University of Technology, Puiestee 78, EE51008 Tartu, Estonia
²Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 58A, EE51014 Tartu, Estonia
³Institute of Chemistry, University of Tartu, Ravila 14A, EE51010 Tartu, Estonia *Correspondence: email@example.com
This review is to reflect the work addressed to the application of biosolids and especially sewage sludge as a resource in composting. A considerable drop in the use of P fertilisers can be followed since early 1990s. Due to this fact crop production in Estonia takes place at the expense of soil phosphorous (P) resources. One of the ways of increasing the fertility of agricultural lands is to use nutrient-rich sewage sludge. Unfortunately, this may cause several undesired consequences due to biological and chemical contaminants. The presence of some widely used pharmaceuticals, as ciprofloxacin (CIP), norfloxacin (NOR), ofloxacin (OFL), sulfadimethoxine (SDM) and sulfamethoxazole (SMX), was evident in sewage sludge of the two Estonian largest cities, Tartu and Tallinn. The concentrations of pharmaceuticals decreased after sewage sludge digestion and composting, but they were still present in detectable amounts. Sewage sludge co-composting experiments with sawdust, peat and straw showed the degradation of fluoroquinolones (FQ) and sulfonamides (SA). Additions of sawdust clearly speeded up this process, whereas the mixtures with peat and straw performed lower abilities to decompose pharmaceutical residues. Novel methodologies were developed and experiments conducted to study the potential accumulation of fluoroquinolones FQs and SAs by food plants. Due to the low adsorption of SAs on soil particles they are ‘free’ to migrate into plants. Different behaviour is characteristic to FQs as they are accumulated in sludge. Recent years have also shown progress in vermicomposting work and in using compost in afforestation.