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Keywords:

  • Sludge;
  • Organic waste;
  • Organic pollutants;
  • Endocrine disrupters;
  • Human nuclear receptors

Abstract

The impact of a full-scale biosolid composting plant on the fate of a broad range of priority organic pollutants was investigated. Chemical analysis was performed at different steps of the process during two seasons. Simultaneously, the toxicological quality was assessed using estrogen α-, dioxin-, and pregnane X-receptor reporter cell lines. Mass-balance calculation highlighted the removal of easily degradable pollutants during composting. The important variations observed for each compound and for the two seasons might be explained by pollutant-fate dependency on process parameters like temperature. The final compost displayed low pregnane X activity but high estrogenic activity. The dioxin-like activity stayed constant through the process. The chemical and toxicological results highlight the importance of combining both approaches to accurately assess the compost quality. Such compilation of data on full-scale processes may be also very helpful for the environmental risk assessment of new organic waste disposal practices. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012; 31: 2748–2756. © 2012 SETAC