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Assessing the changes in E. coli levels and nutrient dynamics during vermicomposting of food waste under lab and field scale conditions
- Cao, Wenlong, Vaddella, Venkata, Biswas, Sagor, Perkins, Katherine, Clay, Cameron, Wu, Tong, Zheng, Yawen, Ndegwa, Pius, Pandey, Pramod
- Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.22 pp. 23195-23202
- Escherichia coli, calcium, carbon, carbon nitrogen ratio, copper, earthworms, fertilizers, food waste, gardens, heavy metals, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen content, pH, pathogens, potassium, temperature, vermicomposting, water content, zinc
- Vermicomposting (VC) has proven to be a promising method for treating garden, household, and municipal wastes. Although the VC has been used extensively for converting wastes into fertilizers, pathogens such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) survival during this process is not well documented. In this study, both lab and field scale experiments were conducted assessing the impacts of earthworms in reducing E. coli concentration during VC of food waste. In addition, other pertinent parameters such as temperature, carbon and nitrogen content, moisture content, pH, volatile solids, micronutrients (P, K, Ca, Mg, and S), and heavy metals (Zn, Mn, Fe, and Cu) were monitored during the study. The lab and field scale experiments were conducted for 107 and 103 days, respectively. The carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N) decreased by 54 % in the lab scale study and by 36 % in the field study. Results showed that VC was not significantly effective in reducing E. coli levels in food waste under both lab and field scale settings. The carbon to nitrogen ratio (C/N) decreased by 54 % in the lab scale study and by 36 % in the field study.