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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Occurrence and fate of contaminants of emerging concern and their transformation products after uptake by pak choi (Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis)

Sunyer-Caldu, Adria; Golovko, Oksana; Kaczmarek, Michal; Asp, Hakan; Bergstrand, Karl -Johan; Gil-Solsona, Ruben; Gago-Ferrero, Pablo; Diaz-Cruz, M. Silvia; Ahrens, Lutz; Hultberg, Malin


Recovery and reuse of nutrients is a major challenge in agriculture. A new process contributing to a circular economy is the anaerobic digestion of food waste, which is a sustainable way of recycling nutrients as the digestate can be used as fertiliser in agriculture and horticulture. However, the digestate may be polluted with contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) that can be circulated back into the food chain, posing a risk to the environment and human health. In this work, the nutrient solution was spiked with 18 selected CECs frequently detected in food waste biogas facilities, and subsequent uptake and fate of these CECs were evaluated in pak choi grown in two different nutrient solutions (mineral and organic). All spiked compounds except two (propylpar-aben, fenbendazole) were taken up by pak choi plants, with perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) and sertraline dis-playing the highest concentrations (270 and 190 mu g/kg fresh weight, respectively). There were no statistically significant differences in uptake between mineral and organic nutrient solutions. Uptake of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was negatively correlated with perfluorocarbon chain length and dependent on the functional group (r =-0.73). Sixteen transformation products (TPs) were tentatively identified using suspect screening, most of which were Phase II or even Phase III metabolites. Six of these TPs were identified for the first time in plant metabolism and their metabolic pathways were considered.


CECs; Uptake; Crops; Transformation products; Suspect screening; PFAS; Pharmaceuticals; Parabens

Published in

Environmental Pollution
2023, Volume: 319, article number: 120958