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Organic contaminant content and physico-chemical characteristics of waste materials recycled in agriculture

Rigby, H., Dowding, A., Fernandes, A., Humphries, D., Petch, R. G., Reynolds, C. K. ORCID:, Rose, M. and Smith, S. R. (2015) Organic contaminant content and physico-chemical characteristics of waste materials recycled in agriculture. Agriculture, 5 (4). pp. 1289-1328. ISSN 2077-0472

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/agriculture5041289


A range of wastes representative of materials currently applied, or with future potential to be applied, to agricultural land in the UK as fertilisers and soil improvers or used as animal bedding in livestock production, were investigated. In addition to full physico-chemical characterization, the materials were analysed for a suite of priority organic contaminants. In general, contaminants were present at relatively low concentrations. For example, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans and polychlorinated biphenyls in biosolids and compost-like-outputs (CLOs) were, in most cases, between 5-50 times lower than proposed and implemented European limit values for biosolids or composts applied to agricultural land. However, the technical basis for these limits may need to be re-evaluated. Polybrominated, and mixed halogenated, dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans are not currently considered in risk assessments of dioxins and dioxin-like chemicals, but were detected in the biosolids and compost-like-outputs and their potential contribution to the overall toxic equivalency will be assessed. Other, ‘emerging’ contaminants such as perfluoralkyl compounds (PFCs) and organophosphate flame retardants were detected in several of the waste materials, and their potential significance is discussed. The study is part of a wider research programme that will provide evidence to improve confidence in the use of waste-derived materials in agriculture and establish guidelines to protect the food chain where necessary.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Animal Sciences > Animal, Dairy and Food Chain Sciences (ADFCS)- DO NOT USE
ID Code:47915
Uncontrolled Keywords:Keywords: ash; agriculture; biosolids; compost-like-output; food; organic contaminants; recycling; waste
Publisher:MDPI Publishing


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