Uptake of pharmaceutical and personal care products by soybean plants from soils applied with biosolids and irrigated with contaminated water

Environ Sci Technol. 2010 Aug 15;44(16):6157-61. doi: 10.1021/es1011115.


Many pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are commonly found in biosolids and effluents from wastewater treatment plants. Land application of these biosolids and the reclamation of treated wastewater can transfer those PPCPs into the terrestrial and aquatic environments, giving rise to potential accumulation in plants. In this work, a greenhouse experiment was used to study the uptake of three pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, diphenhydramine, and fluoxetine) and two personal care products (triclosan and triclocarban) by an agriculturally important species, soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.). Two treatments simulating biosolids application and wastewater irrigation were investigated. After growing for 60 and 110 days, plant tissues and soils were analyzed for target compounds. Carbamazepine, triclosan, and triclocarban were found to be concentrated in root tissues and translocated into above ground parts including beans, whereas accumulation and translocation for diphenhydramine and fluoxetine was limited. The uptake of selected compounds differed by treatment, with biosolids application resulting in higher plant concentrations, likely due to higher loading. However, compounds introduced by irrigation appeared to be more available for uptake and translocation. Degradation is the main mechanism for the dissipation of selected compounds in biosolids applied soils, and the presence of soybean plants had no significant effect on sorption. Data from two different harvests suggest that the uptake from soil to root and translocation from root to leaf may be rate limited for triclosan and triclocarban and metabolism may occur within the plant for carbamazepine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Cosmetics / metabolism*
  • Glycine max / metabolism*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Sewage*
  • Soil / analysis*
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid*
  • Water Pollution / analysis*


  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Sewage
  • Soil