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Distribution and availability of trace elements in municipal solid waste composts

Paradelo, R., Villada, A., Devesa-Rey, R., Dominguez, M., Patino, J. and Barral, M. T. (2011) Distribution and availability of trace elements in municipal solid waste composts. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 13 (1). pp. 201-211. ISSN 1464-0333

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1039/C0EM00408A


Trace element contamination is one of the main problems linked to the quality of compost, especially when it is produced from urban wastes, which can lead to high levels of some potentially toxic elements such as Cu, Pb or Zn. In this work, the distribution and bioavailability of five elements (Cu, Zn, Pb, Cr and Ni) were studied in five Spanish composts obtained from different feedstocks (municipal solid waste, garden trimmings, sewage sludge and mixed manure). The five composts showed high total concentrations of these elements, which in some cases limited their commercialization due to legal imperatives. First, a physical fractionation of the composts was performed, and the five elements were determined in each size fraction. Their availability was assessed by several methods of extraction (water, CaCl2–DTPA, the PBET extract, the TCLP extract, and sodium pyrophosphate), and their chemical distribution was assessed using the BCR sequential extraction procedure. The results showed that the finer fractions were enriched with the elements studied, and that Cu, Pb and Zn were the most potentially problematic ones, due to both their high total concentrations and availability. The partition into the BCR fractions was different for each element, but the differences between composts were scarce. Pb was evenly distributed among the four fractions defined in the BCR (soluble, oxidizable, reducible and residual); Cu was mainly found in the oxidizable fraction, linked to organic matter, and Zn was mainly associated to the reducible fraction (iron oxides), while Ni and Cr were mainly present almost exclusively in the residual fraction. It was not possible to establish a univocal relation between trace elements availability and their BCR fractionation. Given the differences existing for the availability and distribution of these elements, which not always were related to their total concentrations, we think that legal limits should consider availability, in order to achieve a more realistic assessment of the risks linked to compost use.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Earth Systems Science
Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:33906
Publisher:RSC Publishing

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