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Journal Title Abbrev.
J. Elem.
ISSN – 1644-2296
DOI: 10.5601

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Chemicals in wastewater and sewage sludge - an underestimated health and environmental threat

Wydanie: 4/2022

Otrzymano: Marzec 27, 2022

Zaakceptowano: Sierpień 04, 2022

Opublikowano online: 2022-12-12


Bąk-Badowska J., Gregorczyk M., Gworek B., Kordyzon M., Wójtowicz B., Żeber-Dzikowska I.

Kategorie: Pollution and environment, Review paper

DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2022.27.3.2283


The objective of the work is to present the current state of knowledge concerning the harmfulness of chemical agents contained in wastewater and sewage sludge to human health and the surrounding environment. Wastewater and sewage sludge are composed of various chemical substances. These include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), persistent organic pollutants (POPs), heavy metals and pharmaceuticals. Inorganic gases, e.g. hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, are also emitted as a result of putrefaction processes occurring during wastewater treatment. Exposure to these diverse chemical agents poses a health risk due to their toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects as well as their negative impact on endocrine functions. Because of the use of wastewater and sewage sludge in agriculture, they can be incorporated into the biological cycle, leading to the accumulation of pollutants in soils, vegetables and fruit as well as  their transfer to surface water and groundwater. Not all chemical compounds are biodegradable in the environment, which contributes to their bioaccumulation and even biomagnification. The final recipient is man. While standards set for the content of specific pollutants in sewage sludge used for agricultural purposes are now stricter, they are not always complied with. Furthermore, new chemical compounds (e.g. pharmaceuticals) are identified in wastewater and their elimination with traditional wastewater treatment technologies is more difficult.


Wójtowicz B., Kordyzon M., Bąk-Badowska J., Gregorczyk M, Gworek B., Żeber-Dzikowska I. 2022. Chemicals in wastewater and sewage sludge - an underestimated health and environmental threat. J. Elem., 27(4): 847 - 859. DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2022.27.3.2283

Słowa kluczowe:

chemical agents, wastewater, sewage sludge, health, environment, threat

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