Uptake of perfluoroalkyl substances and halogenated flame retardants by crop plants grown in biosolids-amended soils

Environ Res. 2017 Jan;152:199-206. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.10.018. Epub 2016 Oct 26.


The bioaccumulation behavior of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) was examined in three horticultural crops and earthworms. Two species, spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), were grown in field soil amended with a single application of biosolids (at agronomic rate for nitrogen), to represent the scenario using commercial biosolids as fertilizer, and the third crop, corn (Zea mays) was grown in spiked soil (~50mg PFOS/kg soil, ~5mg Deca-BDE/kg soil and a mixture of both, ~50mg PFOS and ~5mg Deca-BDE/kg soil) to represent a worst-case scenario. To examine the bioaccumulation in soil invertebrates, earthworms (Eisenia andrei) were exposed to the spiked soil where corn had been grown. PFASs and HFRs were detected in the three crops and earthworms. To evaluate the distribution of the compounds in the different plant tissues, transfer factors (TFs) were calculated, with TF values higher for PFASs than PBDEs in all crop plants: from 2 to 9-fold in spinach, 2 to 34-fold in tomato and 11 to 309-fold in corn. Bioaccumulation factor (BAF) values in earthworms were also higher for PFASs (4.06±2.23) than PBDEs (0.02±0.02).

Keywords: Biosolid; Earthworm; Perfluoroalkyl substances; Polybrominated diphenyl ethers; Transfer factors.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crops, Agricultural / metabolism*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fertilizers / analysis
  • Flame Retardants / metabolism*
  • Fluorocarbons / metabolism*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / metabolism
  • Oligochaeta / metabolism
  • Sewage / analysis
  • Soil Pollutants / metabolism*
  • Spinacia oleracea / metabolism
  • Zea mays / metabolism


  • Fertilizers
  • Flame Retardants
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Sewage
  • Soil Pollutants