Manzetti S, van der Spoel D
Ecotoxicology 24 (9) 1799-1814 [2015-11-00; online 2015-08-30]
Sludge deposition in the environment is carried out in several countries. It encompasses the dispersion of treated or untreated sludge in forests, marsh lands, open waters as well as estuarine systems resulting in the gradual accumulation of toxins and persistent organic compounds in the environment. Studies on the life cycle of compounds from sludge deposition and the consequences of deposition are few. Most reports focus rather on treatment-methods and approaches, legislative aspects as well as analytical evaluations of the chemical profiles of sludge. This paper reviews recent as well as some older studies on sludge deposition in forests and other ecosystems. From the literature covered it can be concluded that sludge deposition induces two detrimental effects on the environment: (1) raising of the levels of persistent toxins in soil, vegetation and wild life and (2) slow and long-termed biodiversity-reduction through the fertilizing nutrient pollution operating on the vegetation. Since recent studies show that eutrophication of the environment is a major threat to global biodiversity supplying additional nutrients through sludge-based fertilization seems imprudent. Toxins that accumulate in the vegetation are transferred to feeding herbivores and their predators, resulting in a reduced long-term survival chance of exposed species. We briefly review current legislation for sludge deposition and suggest alternative routes to handling this difficult class of waste.