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J Hazard Mater. 2009 Jan 30;161(2-3):1131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2008.04.066. Epub 2008 Apr 24.

Elimination of polyphenols toxicity from olive mill wastewater sludge by its co-composting with sesame bark.

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  • 1UR Etude et Gestion des Environnements Urbains et CĂ´tiers Ecole Nationale d'IngĂ©nieurs de Sfax, LARSEN, B.P. 1173, 3038 Sfax, Tunisie.


Olive mill wastes represent a significant environmental problem in Mediterranean areas where they are generated in huge quantities in a short period of time. Their high phenol, lipid and organic acid concentrations turn them into phytotoxic materials, but these wastes also contain valuable resources such as a large proportion of organic matter and a wide range of nutrients that could be recycled. Composting is one of the technologies used for the valorization of this effluent, producing a fertilizer useful for poor soils.The present work deals with the changes that occur in the content of phenolic compounds and the biotoxicity of the oxidized substrate which result from the composting of olive mill wastewater (OMW) sludge with sesame bark. The total organic matter decreased 52.72% while water-soluble phenol degradation decreased 72% after 7 months of processing. Gas chromatography coupled with mass spectroscopy was used to confirm the elimination of polyphenols during composting. Initially, the analysis showed three abundant polyphenolic compounds, one of which was identified as the 4-hydroxyphenyl-ethanol (tyrosol), a well-known antioxidant in OMW. After 7 months of composting, all of the phenolic compounds disappeared. The phytotoxic effects of OMW sludge, assessed by the plant index germination, increased during the composting to reach 80% after 210 days. This trend was confirmed by the correlation between physico-chemical and toxicity parameters. The results obtained confirmed the stability of the compost prepared from OMW sludge with sesame bark and indicated a gradual detoxification as the compost matured.

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