This research project aims to examine the potential of detergent residues to enter the food chain following uptake by food crops treated with sludge.
<p>Human and animal exposure to chemicals which may be present in sewage sludge applied to agricultural land depends upon several factors, such as soil persistence, crop uptake, and metabolism by crops.
<p>The project is therefore set as a phased study with five key objectives, first to identify the key chemicals involved and then to investigate their fate in soil and plant uptake, as set out below:<br> <ul>
<li>Identification of principal breakdown products of the nonyl phenyl ethoxylates in sewage sludges;
<li>Determination of environmental and metabolic degradation rates in soils to identify compounds of concern, if any;
<li>Determination of the maximum potential uptake of these compounds by food crops;
<li>Field lysimeter and pot trial studies to evaluate crop uptake of alkyl phenols from contaminated soils; and
<li>Determination of the influence of soil characteristics on the uptake of these compounds by crops.
Alkylphenols (particularly nonylphenols) are residues from industrial and domestic detergents.
<p>Nonyl phenol ethoxylate is the most common detergent in use and inevitably enters urban wastewater where it is transferred to sewage sludge during sewage treatment processes.
<p>Some of these residues are only poorly degraded during sewage treatment and can therefore find their way into the environment following sludge application to agricultural land.
<p>The aim of this project is to examine the potential of alkylphenols and their breakdown products to enter the food chain following uptake by food crops treated with sludge.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.