Drinking water treatment residuals (DWTRs) produced in large quantities worldwide show strong sorption capacities for several contaminants including metals. These by-products of the water-treatment process are primarily discharged as wastes, to either natural or engineered systems, based on the regulations in place in the country where they are produced. To assess how DWTRs can be repurposed to limit the mobility of metals in aquatic systems, we tested their propensity to release toxic metals and their potential ecotoxicity. To account for the wide variability in their physicochemical characteristics, DWTR samples were obtained from 15 water-treatment plants across the United States. A screening procedure based on a combination of 1) the toxicity characteristics leaching procedure (TCLP), 2) total metal contents and sediment quality guidelines, and 3) acute 10-d Americamysis bahia and chronic 28-d Neanthes arenaceodentata survival and growth bioassays was used. All tested samples were found to be nonhazardous based on TCLP results. However, the concentrations of As, Cu, and Ni exceeded the sediment quality guidelines in some samples, resulting in the exclusion of 7 DWTR samples. All of the DWTRs evaluated for toxicity were nontoxic to the tested organisms. The results of the present study suggest that certain DWTRs can be introduced safely into the marine environment and, therefore, used as potential amendments or capping materials to control the mobility of certain sediment contaminants. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:1194–1203.
- Drinking water treatment residuals
- Sediment quality guidelines
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis