Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Recycled sewage water is safe for crop irrigation, study suggests

Date:
September 9, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
The first study under realistic field conditions has found reassuringly low levels of chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products in crops irrigated with recycled sewage water, scientists have reported.

The first study under realistic field conditions has found reassuringly low levels of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in crops irrigated with recycled sewage water, scientists reported in Indianapolis today at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"The levels of pharmaceuticals and personal care products that we found in food crops growing under real-world conditions were quite low and most likely do not pose any health concern," said Jay Gan, Ph.D., who led the study. "I think this is good news. These substances do not tend to accumulate in vegetables, including tomatoes and lettuce that people often eat raw. We can use that information to promote the use of this treated wastewater for irrigation."

Gan and colleagues at the University of California-Riverside launched the study because drought and water shortages in the American southwest and in other arid parts of the world are using water recycled from municipal sewage treatment plants to irrigate food crops as the only option.

Water from toilets and sinks enters those facilities from homes and offices, and undergoes processing to kill disease-causing microbes and remove other material. Processing leaves that water, or "effluent," from most sewage treatment plants clean enough to drink. Traditionally, however, sewage treatment plants simply discharge the water into rivers or streams. The effluent still may contain traces of impurities, including the remains of ingredients in prescription drugs, anti-bacterial soaps, cosmetics, shampoos and other PPCPs that are flushed down toilets and drains.

Gan explained that concerns have arisen about the health and environmental effects of those residual PPCPs, especially over whether they might accumulate to dangerous levels in food crops. Previous studies on PPCPs in food crops were small in scale and conducted in laboratories or greenhouses. Gan said his team was the first to focus on 20 PPCPs in multiple crops under realistic field conditions.

They chose eight vegetables that people often eat raw -- carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, celery and cabbage. Gan explained that cooking and other processing can destroy PPCPs, and he wanted to determine the maximum amounts of PPCPs that consumers might ingest.

Xiaoqin Wu, a postdoctoral student in Gan's lab who gave the ACS presentation, said all the crops absorbed PPCPs, including a medication for epilepsy; triclosan, a common anti-bacterial ingredient; a tranquilizer; and caffeine. Leafy vegetables took up the highest amounts of PPCPs.

Wu and Gan said the findings are a first step toward a full understanding of the potential human health effects of PPCPs in sewage treatment plant effluent recycled for irrigation. For instance, many other substances from PPCPs may occur in recycled water but were not included in the study. Likewise, they noted, young children, older individuals and people with chronic diseases may be more susceptible to low levels of PPCPs.

They pointed out that irrigation of food crops with treated wastewater is a well-established practice in some desert countries. Israel, for instance, recycles about 80 percent of all municipal sewage treatment plant effluent and plans to ramp that up to 100 percent by 2020. Estimates suggest that the United States only recycles about 2 to 3 percent. Water scarcities predicted for the future could substantially increase the use of recylced wasterwater here and globally. Water shortages already affect almost 1 billion people, they added.

The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Recycled sewage water is safe for crop irrigation, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909104708.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2013, September 9). Recycled sewage water is safe for crop irrigation, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909104708.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Recycled sewage water is safe for crop irrigation, study suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130909104708.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

Cat Lovers Flock to Los Angeles

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) The best funny internet cat videos are honoured at LA's Feline Film Festival. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Washed-Up 'Alien Hairballs' Are Actually Algae

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) Green balls of algae washed up on Sydney, Australia's Dee Why Beach. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

Raw: San Diego Zoo Welcomes Cheetah Cubs

AP (Sep. 20, 2014) The San Diego Zoo has welcomed two Cheetah cubs to its Safari Park. The nearly three-week-old female cubs are being hand fed and are receiving around the clock care. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

Chocolate Museum Opens in Brussels

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Considered a "national heritage" in Belgium, chocolate now has a new museum in Brussels. In a former chocolate factory, visitors to the permanent exhibition spaces, workshops and tastings can discover derivatives of the cocoa bean. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins