Journal article

Fate of PCBs, PAHs and their source characteristic ratios during composting and digestion of source-separated organic waste in full-scale plants

Composting and digestion are important waste management strategies. However, the resulting products can contain significant amounts of organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). In this study we followed the concentration changes of PCBs and PAHs during composting and digestion on field-scale for the first time. Concentrations of low-chlorinated PCBs increased during composting (about 30%), whereas a slight decrease was observed for the higher chlorinated congeners (about 10%). Enantiomeric fractions of atropisomeric PCBs were essentially racemic and stable over time. Levels of low-molecular-weight PAHs declined during composting (50-90% reduction), whereas high-molecular-weight compounds were stable. The PCBs and PAHs concentrations did not seem to vary during digestion. Source apportionment by applying characteristic PAH ratios and molecular markers in input material did not give any clear results. Some of these parameters changed considerably during composting. Hence, their diagnostic potential for finished compost must be questioned. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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