Soil–Plant Transfer of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

Wei Zheng, Mingxin Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Land application of organic wastes such as sewage effluent, biosolids, and animal wastes can introduce pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) into soils. Food plants grown in soils receiving organic wastes may take up PPCP contaminants and accumulate them in the edible tissues. The purpose of this review is to summarize the latest findings on root uptake of PPCPs and their transfer in soil–plant systems, aiming to identify potential risks associated with organic waste application in crop production systems. Recent Findings: The processes and mechanisms of root uptake of PPCPs and their subsequent transfer in plants are intensively discussed in the present review. Soil properties, PPCP physicochemical properties, and plant species are demonstrated as the most important factors influencing the uptake and transfer of PPCPs in soil–plant systems. The metabolism processes and mechanisms of PPCPs in plant tissues are further elucidated with exemplification of commonly used PPCPs. The estimated daily intake is employed to assess the potential risks of consuming PPCP-containing foods based on their accumulation in edible plant tissues. Two innovative treatment techniques are proposed as cost-effective practices to reduce PPCP transfer into plants from organic wastes. Summary: Accumulation of PPCPs in edible plant tissues is governed by the combined processes of their root uptake, translocation, and metabolism in plants. This paper reviews the latest research advances in understanding the transfer of PPCPs in soil–plant systems, proposes mitigation practices to minimize PPCP entry into food chains, and identifies research challenges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-523
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Pollution Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Accumulation
  • Metabolism
  • Mitigation practice
  • Organic wastes
  • Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)
  • Root uptake and translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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