Uptake and accumulation of emerging contaminants in processing tomato irrigated with tertiary treated wastewater effluent: a pilot-scale study

Michele Denora*, Vincenzo Candido, Gennaro Brunetti, Francesco De Mastro, Sapia Murgolo, Cristina De Ceglie, Carlo Salerno, Giuseppe Gatta, Marcella Michela Giuliani, Andi Mehmeti, Ruud P. Bartholomeus, Michele Perniola*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The reuse of treated wastewater for crop irrigation is vital in water-scarce semi-arid regions. However, concerns arise regarding emerging contaminants (ECs) that persist in treated wastewater and may accumulate in irrigated crops, potentially entering the food chain and the environment. This pilot-scale study conducted in southern Italy focused on tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L. cv Taylor F1) irrigated with treated wastewater to investigate EC uptake, accumulation, and translocation processes. The experiment spanned from June to September 2021 and involved three irrigation strategies: conventional water (FW), treated wastewater spiked with 10 target contaminants at the European average dose (TWWx1), and tertiary WWTP effluent spiked with the target contaminants at a triple dose (TWWx3). The results showed distinct behavior and distribution of ECs between the TWWx1 and TWWx3 strategies. In the TWWx3 strategy, clarithromycin, carbamazepine, metoprolol, fluconazole, and climbazole exhibited interactions with the soil-plant system, with varying degradation rates, soil accumulation rates, and plant accumulation rates. In contrast, naproxen, ketoprofen, diclofenac, sulfamethoxazole, and trimethoprim showed degradation. These findings imply that some ECs may be actively taken up by plants, potentially introducing them into the food chain and raising concerns for humans and the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1238163
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • emerging contaminants (EC)
  • plant uptake
  • soil contamination
  • tomato
  • wastewater irrigation
  • water reuse

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