Document Type




Format of Original

6 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Journal of Hazardous Materials

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

DOI: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2016.05.088; PubMed Central: PMID: 27344259


Most wastewater treatment processes are not specifically designed to remove micropollutants. Many micropollutants are hydrophobic so they remain in the biosolids and are discharged to the environment through land-application of biosolids. Micropollutants encompass a broad range of organic chemicals, including estrogenic compounds (natural and synthetic) that reside in the environment, a.k.a. environmental estrogens. Public concern over land application of biosolids stemming from the occurrence of micropollutants hampers the value of biosolids which are important to wastewater treatment plants as a valuable by-product. This research evaluated pyrolysis, the partial decomposition of organic material in an oxygen-deprived system under high temperatures, as a biosolids treatment process that could remove estrogenic compounds from solids while producing a less hormonally active biochar for soil amendment. The estrogenicity, measured in estradiol equivalents (EEQ) by the yeast estrogen screen (YES) assay, of pyrolyzed biosolids was compared to primary and anaerobically digested biosolids. The estrogenic responses from primary solids and anaerobically digested solids were not statistically significantly different, but pyrolysis of anaerobically digested solids resulted in a significant reduction in EEQ; increasing pyrolysis temperature from 100 °C to 500 °C increased the removal of EEQ with greater than 95% removal occurring at or above 400 °C. This research demonstrates that biosolids treatment with pyrolysis would substantially decrease (removal > 95%) the estrogens associated with this biosolids product. Thus, pyrolysis of biosolids can be used to produce a valuable soil amendment product, biochar, that minimizes discharge of estrogens to the environment.


Accepted version. Journal of Hazardous Materials, Vol. 317 (November 5, 2016): 579-584. DOI. © 2016 Elsevier B.V. Used with permission.