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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)


Developing exposure and toxicity data for trace organic chemicals in wastewater, biosolids, and soils


PI: Bice Martincigh (martinci@ukzn.ac.za), University of KwaZulu-Natal
U.S. Partner: Natalie Mladenov, San Diego State University
Project Dates: February 2017 - December 2021

Project Overview:

5-432 BMartincigh
Dr. Chris Buckley at the wastewater treatment plant at Newlands Mashu
Contemporary lifestyles and the extensive use of organic chemicals in personal care and consumer products (PCCPs) leads to the constant discharge of enormous quantities of chemical residues from industries and homes into wastewater streams and, ultimately, the environment. In contrast to heavy metals, pathways of trace organic chemicals (TOrCs) derived from manufacturing and use of PCCPs are varied in the wastewater stream . The majority of TOrCs that reach wastewater treatment plants are destroyed through treatment and sludge processing, but recalcitrant TOrCs and their metabolites can pass through the treatment process intact and partition, dependent on their physico-chemical properties, in biosolids and aqueous media. Very little is known about the fate of TOrCs in the climatic context of South Africa.

This team has chosen to study a set of four classes of potential pollutants: flame retardants, the broad-spectrum herbicide glyphosate (Ro undup®, ubiquitously used in the local sugarcane industry), antibiotics, and HIV anti-retrovirals. Effluents from wastewater treatment plants in the Durban area, sewage sludge, biosolids, soils from effluent-irrigated farm land, and sludge and/or biosolid-amended soils will be analyzed and characterized for the presence of these TOrCs.

This project will have access to the local DEWATS wastewater treatment plant, which allows for detailed studies on the fate of the TOrCs during their passage through the plant and subsequent agricultural areas, providing a confined and controlled environment. Comprehensive target and non-target analytical techniques will be developed to detect and quantify the four classes of compounds in the selected matrices.

Furthermore, the team will develop a simultaneous extraction and clean-up method for each chemical compound class in the above-mentioned matrices.





Summary of Recent Events

In this reporting period, due to the ongoing pandemic, the project team was not able to carry out any project activities. They hope the University will reopen in July when they can continue with the necessary laboratory work. However, access to the laboratories will be limited so progress is likely to be slow. 





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Chemistry lab at UKZNThe UKZN project team and PEER Project Manager


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