Monitoring Xenoestrogens and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Contaminants Using the AhR/ER-CALUX Bioassay to Assess Potential Environmental Risks of Wastewater Reuse for Irrigating Crop Yield

Activiteit: Talk or presentation at a conference


Reduced precipitation, lower crop yields, and alterations in water quality due to global warming and dry seasons have been affecting Belgian farmers for decades. To solve this problem, the reuse of treated wastewater presents significant advantages from an environmental point of view because it allows the recycling of treated water and limits the consumption of fresh water. However, such reuse needs to be strictly controlled to avoid any sanitary risk and pollution of the water table, because inorganic and organic micropollutants may still be present even after the wastewater is treated. In this study, we focused on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and xenoestrogens (XEs) from industrial, domestic, and agricultural discharges. PAHs are known for their carcinogenicity and mutagenicity, while XEs can mimic endogenous estrogens and affect the endocrine system of living organisms. Our objective was to regularly monitor wastewater and groundwater to assess the potential environmental risks of wastewater reuse. Liquid-liquid extraction using n-hexane and solid phase extraction were used to extract PAHs and XEs, respectively. Then, the extracts were tested using an effect-based in vitro CALUX bioassay to detect PAHs and XEs activities in water samples. Biological equivalents (BEQs) of PAHs expressed as BaP equivalents ranged from < LoD to 229 ng/L (median: 46 ng/L). XE-BEQs expressed as E2 equivalents ranged from 0.01 to 4 ng/L (median: 0.4 ng/L). Both medians are below the WFD environmental quality standards. Given the observed trends between PAHs in water and precipitation levels, the main source of PAHs in water appears to be wet deposition. In addition, there was no significant change in the activity of PAHs in groundwater at the 5% level before and after using wastewater for irrigation. The source of XEs seems more scattered, which can be explained by irregular domestic and agricultural inputs. In conclusion, the reuse of wastewater for crop irrigation appears to be a satisfactory economic option from the point of view of PAHs and XEs contaminants. Regular monitoring using effect-based methodology to estimate the potential risk related to these contaminants offers a robust and relatively inexpensive screening compared to traditional instrumental analysis.
Periode11 sep 202315 sep 2023
EvenementstitelAquaConSoil 2023
LocatiePrague, Czech Republic