The beneficial use of drinking water treatment residuals (DWTRs) faces barriers due primarily to uncertainties and concerns about their potential environmental impacts. We used total and water leachable toxic metal concentrations and 2 benthic organism–based bioassays to identify suitable DWTR substrates for introduction to freshwater systems. Using total metal contents and the consensus probable effect concentration concept, 3 DWTRs were selected and used in elutriate and toxicity studies. The concentrations of water leachable Ag, As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn were below the US Environmental Protection Agency's ambient water quality criteria. Using the long-term 65-d life cycle Chironomus tentans test and 4 different endpoints (survival, adult emergence, egg case production, and number of eggs produced per female), no statistical differences were found between the DWTR treatments and the controls. Similarly, results obtained using the 10-d Hyalella azteca test showed no toxicity. However, although both survival and growth were recorded in all bioassays, the results of the 10-d C. tentans and the 28-d H. azteca tests were ambiguous. For C. tentans, 2 of the 3 DWTRs resulted in significantly lower survival rates compared to the controls. For H. azteca, no significant growth differences were observed between controls and DWTR treatments, but 2 of the 3 DWTRs resulted in significantly lower survival rates than the controls. Overall, these results suggest that certain DWTR substrates could be suitable for introduction to aquatic systems. Environ Toxicol Chem 2021;40:2005–2014.
- Drinking water treatment residuals
- Freshwater toxicology
- Metal leachability
- Sediment quality
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis