Purdue University Graduate School
McLaughlin MS Thesis.pdf (1.36 MB)


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posted on 2019-08-15, 12:54 authored by Kyle N MclaughlinKyle N Mclaughlin
Biosolids-based fertilizers are sold to the public to provide beneficial nutrients and organic matter for plant production. They are commonly applied to community gardens, municipal lands, reclamation projects, and golf courses. These fertilizers, however, may also contain a variety of trace organic contaminants, which can be persistent in the environment. Our work sought to quantify the persistence of biosolids contaminants in community garden soils. The commercial biosolids-based fertilizer, OCEANGRO®, was amended to two community garden soils to determine the first-order half-lives of four model contaminants: carbamazepine, miconazole, triclocarban, and triclosan. The criteria for their selection included biosolids occurrence, ecotoxicity, antimicrobial function, and knowledge gaps. Aerobic biosolids-amended soil microcosms were incubated at 22 ± 1 °C and approximately 80% field capacity. Sacrificial sampling occurred seven times over 180 days through multi-step solvent extractions. Detection and quantification were done on a high-performance liquid chromatograph tandem triple-quadrupole mass spectrometer. Results indicated that biosolids contaminants persist in soils with some having modeled half-lives in the hundreds of days. Additional analyses of solvent-spiked contaminant degradation and porewater desorption were performed to provide greater insight into possible limitations on resident biosolids contaminant degradation and to form a better comparative basis to previous literature. Solvent-spiked contaminants degraded more quickly than those resident within biosolids, which indicate that data using the former may underestimate persistence in real-world environments. The porewater analysis allowed for the desorption coefficient to be calculated for all four model resident contaminants. Disparities in the trends of these desorption coefficients and solvent-spiked degradation rates showed that desorption from the biosolids matrix may have been a limiting factor to resident degradation for only some of our four model contaminants. Nonetheless, the demonstrated persistence of these contaminants necessitates long-term thinking in relation to biosolids application. More work is needed on the potential hazards associated with biosolids use in public lands regarding ecotoxicity and antimicrobial resistance.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Agronomy

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Michael L. Mashtare Jr.

Additional Committee Member 2

Linda S. Lee

Additional Committee Member 3

Ronald F. Turco