Occurrence of Triclocarban and Triclosan in an Agro-Ecosystem Following Application of Biosolids

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Triclocarban (TCC) and triclosan (TCS), two of the most commonly used antimicrobial compounds, can be introduced into ecosystems by applying wastewater treatment plant biosolids to agricultural fields. Concentrations of TCC and TCS were measured in different trophic levels within a terrestrial food web encompassing land-applied biosolids, soil, earthworms (Lumbricus), deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), and eggs of European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and American kestrels (Falco sparverius) at an experimental site amended with biosolids for the previous 7 years. The samples from this site were compared to the same types of samples from a reference (biosolids-free) agricultural site. Inter-site comparisons showed that concentrations of both antimicrobials were higher on the experimental site in the soil, earthworms, mice (livers), and European starling eggs, but not American kestrel eggs, compared to the control site. Inter-species comparisons on the experimental site indicated significantly higher TCC concentrations in mice (TCC: 12.6–33.3 ng/g) and in starling eggs (TCC: 15.4–31.4 ng/g) than in kestrel eggs (TCC: 3.6 ng/g). Nesting success of kestrels only was significantly lower on the experimental site compared to the reference site due to nest abandonment. This study demonstrates that biosolids-derived TCC and TCS are present throughout the terrestrial food web, including secondary (e.g., starlings) and tertiary (i.e., kestrels) consumers, after repeated, long-term biosolids application.


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