The Influence of Anaerobic Digestion on Selected Heavy Metals Fractionation in Sewage Sludge
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Lublin University of Technology, Faculty of Environmental Engineering ul. Nadbystrzycka 40 B 20-618 Lublin, Poland
Publication date: 2020-04-01
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Magdalena Zdeb   

Lublin University of Technology, Faculty of Environmental Engineering ul. Nadbystrzycka 40 B 20-618 Lublin, Poland
J. Ecol. Eng. 2020; 21(3):27-35
Rising efficiency of wastewater purification systems causes an increase in the amounts of sewage sludge. Its land application is economically attractive because of low cost and high efficiency. Using sewage sludge in agriculture is one of the most preferred ways of its disposal. Only stabilized sludge and containing permissible concentrations of heavy metals can be used for this purpose. The heavy metals introduction into the environment may cause a potential problem for public health, especially when they percolate from soil to plants or groundwater. Therefore, the concentrations of heavy metals in sludge intended for agriculture are regulated. Determination of total content of heavy metals in digested sludge is not sufficient for the evaluation of a potential risk to the environment. The mobility and toxicity of heavy metals depend strongly on their specific chemical forms. The concentrations of particular heavy metal fractions are the most important parameters, which should be examined in order to estimate the influence of sludge on the environment. The aim of an article was to evaluate the influence of anaerobic digestion on the concentration and variability of chemical forms of selected heavy metals (Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn) in the sewage sludge coming from a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Pulawy (Poland). The content of particular forms of heavy metals in raw and digested sewage sludge was determined by means of the BCR (Community Bureau of Reference) method. The BCR method enables separating four fractions of heavy metals: exchangeable, reducible, oxidizable and residual. The results obtained after analyzing raw sludge showed that the majority of the analyzed heavy metals were predominantly associated with the oxidizable and residual fractions. Only in the case of Zn, the reducible form constituted a greater part. In the case of digested sludge, all studied heavy metals exhibited the most dominant oxidizable and residual fractions; however, the percentages of particular fractions were different than in raw sludge. It was noticed that all heavy metals concentrations were higher in digested sludge in comparison to sludge before anaerobic digestion. The content of heavy metals in the analyzed materials did not exceed the admissible Polish levels for the sludge intended for the agricultural use.
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