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The Impact of Various Contaminants on the Trace Metal Content of Compost

Zhou, Lixian, McCartney, Daryl, Chen, Weixing, Yu, Shouhai, Abboud, Salim, Wichuk, Kristine
Compost science & utilization 2012 v.20 no.3 pp. 156-164
arsenic, batteries, cobalt, composting, composts, copper, feedstocks, lead, municipal solid waste, zinc
The trace metal content of municipal solid waste (MSW) compost affects the quality and potential end uses of the finished product. The impact of typical contaminants found in the organic fraction of MSW on the trace metal content of compost was investigated. Contaminants including alkaline batteries, galvanized nails, zinc-plated screws, copper wires, and electronic cables were exposed to a thermophilic composting process for three weeks. The increase in trace metal content in the compost product was measured at the end of the composting process. The results showed that low-quality alkaline batteries, galvanized nails, zinc-plated nails, and copper wires had a significant impact on the zinc, copper, arsenic, lead, and cobalt contents of compost. Copper wires showed the highest impact on copper content, which was 52% of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Category A limit in the final compost. Galvanized nails contributed to final levels of zinc reaching 30% of the CCME Category A limit. To ensure that CCME Category A criteria can be achieved, it is recommended that contaminants made from bare copper or coated with zinc be removed from the composting feedstock.