32 Citations (Scopus)


The European Commission has been planning limits for organic pollutants in sewage sludge for 14years; however no legislation has been implemented. This is mainly due to lack of data on sewage sludge contamination by organic pollutants, and possible negative effects to the environment. However, waste management has become an acute problem in many countries. Management options require extensive waste characterization, since many of them may contain compounds which could be harmful to the ecosystem, such as heavy metals, organic pollutants. The present study aims to show the true European position, regarding the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) content of sewage sludge, by comparing the Italian PAHs content with European Union countries, and at assessing the suitability of sewage sludge as soil fertilizer. The FOCUS Pearl model was used to estimate the concentration of benzo [a] pyrene (B(a)Pyr), the most toxic PAH in soil, and its exposure to organisms was then evaluated. The simulated B(a)Pyr and PAHs, expressed as B(a)Pyr, concentrations in soil were much lower than the B(a)Pyr's most conservative lowest observable effect concentration (LOEC) for soil organisms. Furthermore, the results obtained indicate that it is more appropriate to apply 5tha-1 sewage sludge annually than 15tha-1 triennially. Results suggest, the EU maximum recommended limit of 6mgkg- 1 PAHs in sewage sludge, should be conservative enough to avoid groundwater contamination and negative effects on soil organisms. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Long-term simulation
  • PAHs
  • Sewage sludge
  • Soil fertilizer


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