From consumption to harvest: Environmental fate prediction of excreted ionizable trace organic chemicals

Fabio Polesel, Benedek Gy. Plosz, Stefan Trapp

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31 Citations (SciVal)


Excreted trace organic chemicals, e.g., pharmaceuticals and biocides, typically undergo incomplete elimination in municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and are released to surface water via treated effluents and to agricultural soils through sludge amendment and/or irrigation with freshwater or reclaimed wastewater. Recent research has shown the tendency for these substances to accumulate in food crops. In this study, we developed and applied a simulation tool to predict the fate of three ionizable trace chemicals (triclosan—TCS, furosemide—FUR, ciprofloxacin—CIP) from human consumption/excretion up to the accumulation in soil and plant, following field amendment with sewage sludge or irrigation with river water (assuming dilution of WWTP effluent). The simulation tool combines the SimpleTreat model modified for fate prediction of ionizable chemicals in a generic WWTP and a recently developed dynamic soil-plant uptake model. The simulation tool was tested using country-specific (e.g., consumption/emission rates, precipitation and temperature) input data. A Monte Carlo-based approach was adopted to account for the uncertainty associated to physico-chemical and biokinetic model parameters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-98
Number of pages14
JournalWater Research
Early online date3 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • fate modeling
  • ionizable organic trace chemicals
  • wastewater treatment
  • plant uptake
  • agricultural sludge reuse
  • irrigation


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