Water research

Phytoaccumulation of antimicrobials from biosolids: impacts on environmental fate and relevance to human exposure.

PMID 21903237


Triclocarban and triclosan, two antimicrobials widely used in consumer products, can adversely affect ecosystems and potentially impact human health. The application of biosolids to agricultural fields introduces triclocarban and triclosan to soil and water resources. This research examined the phytoaccumulation of antimicrobials, effects of plant growth on migration of antimicrobials to water resources, and relevance of phytoaccumulation in human exposure to antimicrobials. Pumpkin, zucchini, and switch grass were grown in soil columns to which biosolids were applied. Leachate from soil columns was assessed every other week for triclocarban and triclosan. At the end of the trial, concentrations of triclocarban and triclosan were determined for soil, roots, stems, and leaves. Results indicated that plants can reduce leaching of antimicrobials to water resources. Pumpkin and zucchini growth significantly reduced soil concentrations of triclosan to less than 0.001 mg/kg, while zucchini significantly reduced soil concentrations of triclocarban to 0.04 mg/kg. Pumpkin, zucchini, and switch grass accumulated triclocarban and triclosan in mg per kg (dry) concentrations. Potential human exposure to triclocarban from consumption of pumpkin or zucchini was substantially less than exposure from product use, but was greater than exposure from drinking water consumption. Consequently, research indicated that pumpkin and zucchini may beneficially impact the fate of antimicrobials in agricultural fields, while presenting minimal acute risk to human health.