A quantitative assessment of plastic residues in Australian biosolids

The extent and scope of how plastics may be introduced into soil systems is not fully understood, however it has been recognised worldwide that they can be introduced into soils through the practice of applying biosolids (treated sewage sludge) to agricultural land. In Australia, about 371,000 tonnes of biosolids were produced in 2018, with about 70% applied for agricultural purposes. The widespread use of biosolids for agricultural purposes could therefore be a potential opportunity for the release of plastics into receiving Australian agricultural soils, which could pose a greater risk to the soil ecosystem and humans. Nevertheless, we currently do not know how much plastics are in biosolids intended to be applied to agricultural lands across Australia. Accordingly, this study aims to determine the per capita mass and composition of plastics within biosolids samples intended for agricultural land applications in Australia using our novel pressurized liquid extraction combined with pyrolysis gas chromatography–mass spectrometry technique, to have a more comprehensive understanding of their fate.

Elvis holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University for Development Studies, Ghana and a Master of Philosophy degree in Environmental Science from the University of Ghana. Prior to joining QAEHS for his PhD in April 2018, Elvis was working as a Research Assistant under Dr. Benedicta Fosu-Mensah at the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana. His PhD study focuses on assessing the risks associated with the land application of biosolids. Elvis is particularly interested in investigating the occurrence/incidence of contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) and microplastics (MPs) in biosolids intended for land applications, their environmental fate, potential effects/risks on soil ecosystems and their associated human health implications/risks/toxicology.

Please note this is a Mid-candidature review by PhD student Elvis Okoffo.

This seminar will be held via Zoom, please email if you would the Zoom link.