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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2000 Oct;47(2):156-66.

A battery of toxicity tests as indicators of decontamination in composting oily waste.

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Bio-Nobile Oy, Turku, FIN-20521, Finland.


Heterogeneous oily waste from an old dumping site was composted in three windrows constructed from different proportions of waste, sewage sludge, and bark. The objectives of this pilot study were to examine the usefulness of composting as a treatment method for this particular waste and to study decontamination in the composting process by using a battery of toxicity tests. Five samples from the windrow having intermediate oil concentrations were tested with toxicity tests based on microbes (Pseudomonas putida growth inhibition test, ToxiChromotest, MetPLATE, and three different modifications of a luminescent bacterial test), enzyme inhibition (reverse electron transport), plants (duckweed growth inhibition and red clover seed germination), and soil animals (Folsomia candida, Enchytraeus albidus, and Enchytraeus sp.). The luminescent bacterial tests were used as prescreening tests. Chemical analyses of samples were carried out simultaneously. Both toxicity and oil concentration, including those of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), were reduced during composting and soil quality improved significantly. The total oil hydrocarbon concentration decreased from 90,000 to 19,000 mg/kg, measured with the IR method, in 4 months, and from 86,000 to 1400 mg/kg, measured with GC method. The concentration of PAHs decreased from 135 to 23.5 mg/kg. During the fourth month of composting (stabilization stage), the proportion of the heaviest oil fractions (asphaltenes) became dominant. Toxicity varied between different samples and between different bioassays; however, the first sample was significantly more toxic than the others, and most of the tests revealed a decrease in toxicity during the composting process.

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