, Volume 20, Issue 7, pp 4520-4531,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Uptake and translocation of organophosphates and other emerging contaminants in food and forage crops


Emerging contaminants in wastewater and sewage sludge spread on agricultural soil can be transferred to the human food web directly by uptake into food crops or indirectly following uptake into forage crops. This study determined uptake and translocation of the organophosphates tris(1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate (TCPP) (log K ow 2.59), triethyl-chloro-phosphate (TCEP) (log K ow 1.44), tributyl phosphate (TBP) (log K ow 4.0), the insect repellent N,N-diethyl toluamide (DEET) (log K ow 2.18) and the plasticiser N-butyl benzenesulfonamide (NBBS) (log K ow 2.31) in barley, wheat, oilseed rape, meadow fescue and four cultivars of carrot. All species were grown in pots of agricultural soil, freshly amended contaminants in the range of 0.6–1.0 mg/kg dry weight, in the greenhouse. The bioconcentration factors for root (RCF), leaf (LCF) and seed (SCF) were calculated as plant concentration in root, leaf or seed over measured initial soil concentration, both in dry weight. The chlorinated flame retardants (TCEP and TCPP) displayed the highest bioconcentration factors for leaf and seed but did not show the same pattern for all crop species tested. For TCEP, which has been phased out due to toxicity but is still found in sewage sludge and wastewater, LCF was 3.9 in meadow fescue and 42.3 in carrot. For TCPP, which has replaced TCEP in many products and also occurs in higher residual levels in sewage sludge and wastewater, LCF was high for meadow fescue and carrot (25.9 and 17.5, respectively). For the four cultivars of carrot tested, the RCF range for TCPP and TCEP was 10–20 and 1.7–4.6, respectively. TCPP was detected in all three types of seeds tested (SCF, 0.015–0.110). Despite that DEET and NBBS have log K ow in same range as TCPP and TCEP, generally lower bioconcentration factors were measured. Based on the high translocation of TCPP and TCEP to leaves, especially TCPP, into meadow fescue (a forage crop for livestock animals), ongoing risk assessments should be conducted to investigate the potential effects of these compounds in the food web.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues