Research title: Assessing the Ecological impacts of Sewage Sludge Recycling
Honouring green chemistry principles while tracing contaminants in an agricultural frame; analysing soil and other matrices to investigate what happens to undesired compounds once released into the environment. My research employs different analytical methods to gain insight on the movement of contaminants between environmental compartments.
Emerging contaminants, man-made chemicals can have complex and potentially adverse effects on the environment. The diverse group of ECs include pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), to only name a few classes of compounds. ECs may not necessarily be new to the environment but have not been considered in ecological risk assessment previously. The assessment of ecological effects and environmental aspects of the release of those micropollutants into the environment, by themselves as well as in mixtures of various concentrations, requires more in-depth analysis.
The processes surrounding wastewater treatment, sewage sludge application to agricultural land and resulting run-off after sludge application have been identified as major entry routes for contaminants into the aquatic and terrestrial environment. In general, compounds with a highly lipophilic character will preferably partition onto solid particles during the separation of liquid and solids in wastewater treatment and therefore, can be found in sewage sludge subsequently. The nature of employed processes, flow dynamics, additives (e.g. flocculation agents), the percentage of suspended solids as well as their properties may influence the efficiency of sorption of compounds to particles.
The extraction of contaminants from complex environmental matrices, such as treated sludge and soil, presents different challenges, from low concentrations to the possibility to co-extract undesired components of the matrices themselves. In this project, we aim to develop an efficient and robust extraction of PFASs while minimising solvent use and the risk of cross-contamination. Once successfully extracted, samples can be analysed by means of different analytical techniques, namely gas chromatography and liquid chromatography in hyphenation with mass spectrometry, to trace the movement of different compounds across the environment.
(accepted) TUERK, F., FELL, K., ROBERS, J., BELLINGHAM, M. & GAUCHOTTE-LINDSAY, C. 2023. Detection of Perfluorocarboxylic Acids in Soil. ENVChem2023 Chemistry of the Whole Environment. Glasgow: Royal Society of Chemistry.
(accepted) TUERK, F., FELL, K., ROBERS, J., BELLINGHAM, M. & GAUCHOTTE-LINDSAY, C. 2023. Detection of Perfluoro Carboxylic Acids in Complex Environmental Matrices. Fluoros2023. Idstein, Germany.