Agricultural application of municipal sewage sludge has been emotionally discussed in the last decades, because the latter contains endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and other organic micro-pollutants with unknown fate and risk potential. Bisphenol A (BPA) was chosen as a model substance to investigate the influence of sludge conditioning on the end-concentration of EDCs in sludge. Adsorption studies with radioactive-labelled BPA showed that more than 75% BPA in anaerobically digested sludge is bound to solids (log Kd = 2.09-2.30; log Koc = 2.72-3.11). Sludge conditioning with polymer or iron (III) chloride alone had no influence on the adsorption of BPA. After conditioning with iron (III) chloride and calcium hydroxide desorption of BPA took place. Apparently, it occurred due to the deprotonation of BPA (pKa = 10.3) as the pH-value reached 12.4 during the process. The same behaviour is expected for other phenolic EDCs with similar pKa (nonylphenol, 17β-estradiol, estron, estriol, 17α-ethinylestradiol). This study shows high affinity of BPA to the anaerobically digested sludge and importance of conditioning in the elimination of EDCs during the sludge treatment. Addition of polymer is favourable in the case of sludge incineration. Conditioning with iron (III) chloride and calcium hydroxide shows advantages for the use of sludge as fertiliser.

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