Infoscience

Journal article

Organic pollutants in compost and digestate. Part 1. Polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and molecular markers

In Europe, 9.3 x 10(6) t(dry weight ( dw)) of compost and digestate are produced per year. Most of this is applied to agricultural land, which can lead to considerable inputs of organic pollutants, such as polychlorinated biphenyls ( PCB) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ( PAH) to soil. This paper presents an inventory of the pollutant situation in source-separated composts, digestates and presswater in Switzerland by a detailed analysis of over 70 samples. PCB concentrations ( Sigma PPCB 28, 52, 101, 118, 138, 153, 180) were significantly higher in urban ( median: 30 mu g kg(dw)(-1), n = 52) than in rural samples ( median: 14 mu g kg(dw)(-1), n = 16). Together with low concentrations in general, this points to aerial deposition on compost input material as the major contamination pathway. Enantiomeric fractions of atropisometric PCB were close to racemic. Median PAH concentration was 3010 mu g kg(dw)(-1), ( Sigma 15PAH, n = 69), and one quarter of the samples exhibited concentrations above the relevant Swiss guide value for compost ( 4000 mu g kg(dw)(-1),). The levels were in. uenced by the treatment process ( digestate 4 compost), the season of input material collection ( spring-summer > winter > autumn), the particle size ( coarse-grained > fine-grained), and maturity ( mature > less mature). The main source of PAH in compost was pyrogenic, probably in. uenced mainly by liquid fossil fuel combustion and some asphalt abrasion, as suggested by multiple linear regression. This study, together with a companion paper reporting on other organic contaminates including emerging compound classes, provides a starting point for a better risk-benefit estimation of the application of compost and digestate to agricultural soil in Switzerland.

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