Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 11084–11099 | Cite as

Using laboratory-generated biosolids to evaluate the microbial ecotoxicity of triclosan in a simulated land application scenario

  • Ryan M. Holzem
  • Courtney M. Gardner
  • Heather M. Stapleton
  • Claudia K. Gunsch
Research Article


Land application accounts for approximately 50% of wastewater solids disposal in the USA. Yet, little is known regarding the ecological impacts of many non-regulated chemicals found in biosolids. In most previous studies aimed at assessing ecological impacts, a model biosolid is generated by spiking high concentrations of the target chemical into a soil or biosolid. This approach does not account for the interaction of the chemical of interest with the solids throughout the biosolids production process (a.k.a., aging) which may impact the bioavailability and, thus, ultimate toxicity of the chemical. In the present study, using a lab-scale wastewater and digestion treatment system, we generated biosolids which contained aged triclosan and compared ecological impacts to that of spiked biosolids. Ecotoxicity was assessed based on functional and community structure changes to soil denitrifiers, microorganisms critical to nitrogen cycling. A decrease in denitrifier abundance and diversity was observed in the aged biosolids at concentrations of 17.9 ± 1.93 μg/kg while decreases in activity were observed at 26.9 ± 4.6 μg/kg. In the spiked biosolids treatment, lower denitrifier abundance, diversity, and activity were observed at triclosan (TCS) concentrations of 68.6 ± 26.9 μg/kg. This difference suggests a need to better understand TCS bioavailability dynamics.


Biosolids Triclosan Denitrification Aging Anaerobic digestion 



This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under grant no. CBET 0854167. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF. We thank Dr. Heather Stapleton’s lab at Duke University, particularly Dr. Elizabeth Davis and Thomas (Mingliang Fang) for providing the analytical support. We also thank Dr. Emily Bernhardt’s lab at Duke University, particularly Brooke Hassett for providing help with the DEA assay.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_1147_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1133 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan M. Holzem
    • 1
  • Courtney M. Gardner
    • 2
  • Heather M. Stapleton
    • 3
  • Claudia K. Gunsch
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Natural and Applied SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin–Green BayGreen BayUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Nicholas School of EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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