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Issue 2, 2002
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Heavy metal speciation in the composting process

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Composting is one of the more efficient and environment friendly methods of solid waste disposal and has many advantages when compared with landfill disposal on which the UK and Ireland are currently heavily dependent. Composting is a very complicated process involving intensive microbial activity and the detailed mechanisms of the process have yet to be fully understood. Metal speciation information can provide an insight into the metal-microbial interaction and would help in the evaluation of the quality of compost. This would facilitate the exploitation of composts in remediation of heavy metal contaminated land. In this work a systematic approach to metal speciation in compost has been taken by applying the three-step method for operationally defined metal speciation of soils and sediments, developed by the European Commission's Standards, Measurement and Testing Programme to monitor the change in metal speciation with time (up to 106 days) for four different waste composting processes. The results have shown that in general metals become less available for the first extraction step as the composting process proceeds. This implies that composting tends to redistribute the metals from more labile forms to more fixed forms which may explain why the application of composts could be useful for with heavy metal contaminated land. There are exceptions to this trend and in some cases, certain metals appear to behave differently depending on the source of the compost.

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Nov 2001, accepted on 30 Jan 2002 and first published on 22 Feb 2002

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B110608M
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2002,4, 300-305
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    Heavy metal speciation in the composting process

    G. M. Greenway and Q. J. Song, J. Environ. Monit., 2002, 4, 300
    DOI: 10.1039/B110608M

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