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Evaluation of Heavy Metals and Associated Health Risks in a Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant's Sludge for Its Land Application

The objectives of this study are to monitor the heavy metal concentrations in sludge samples collected from the Ankara Central Wastewater Treatment Plant (ACWWTP) in Turkey, check if these concentrations comply with the Turkish Regulation (Regulation Regarding the Use of Domestic and Urban Sludges on Soil), and evaluate possible health risks of heavy metals in sludge due to ingestion of sludge by a child. Monthly sludge samples were collected from the ACWWTP during 2012 and analyzed for seven heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, and Zn). According to the results from the study, heavy metal concentrations showed no common seasonal trend. All heavy metal concentrations, except for one sample in which Zn was found to be at the limit value, are below the Turkish Regulation limits. In addition, health risks calculations for the "child ingesting biosolids" pathway, which is one of the most critical pathways identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for land application, were carried out. Among the seven heavy metals, Pb contributed the most to the cumulative non-cancer health risks throughout 2012. Nevertheless, the results showed that cumulative non-cancer health risks associated with this pathway are within the acceptable non-cancer health risk level suggested by USEPA.