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Sustainability ; 15(8):6773, 2023.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-2299300


Sludge generation as an organic by-product of wastewater treatment has seen a consistent increase worldwide due to population growth and industrial activities. This poses a chronic challenge regarding management options and environmental concerns. The agricultural valorization of unconventional organic materials has become inevitable, especially in semi-arid and arid countries that suffer from depleted soils and shortages in farm manure supply. High-income countries have also been interested in this recycling practice to mitigate landfilling or incineration issues. Sewage and some industrial sludges contain a complex mixture of beneficial and harmful substances, which varies with the origin of effluents. Therefore, sludge land application should be well managed in order to achieve sustainable agro-environmental goals. This review paper focuses on different aspects related to sludge reuse in agriculture, starting by investigating the diversity of sludge types and composition. In addition to the preponderant urban sewage sludge, the less-studied industrial sludges, such as those generated from pulp and paper mills or gas-to-liquid industries, are hereby addressed as well. Then, post-land application effects are discussed in relation to sludge quality, dose, and reuse conditions. The present paper also examines the disparities between guidelines that determine sludge conformity for land application in various countries or regions. Accordingly, special attention is given to increasing risks related to emerging pollutants in sludge such as pharmaceuticals, which have been overused since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. This exhaustive investigation will assist the establishment of sustainable strategies for the safe agricultural reuse of biosolids.