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Composting Used as a Low Cost Method for Pathogen Elimination in Sewage Sludge in Mérida, Mexico

DOI: 10.3390/su5073150

Keywords: sewage sludge, composting, pathogens, waste water

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Abstract:

Spreading sewage sludge from municipal wastewater (MWW) treatment on land is still a common practice in developing countries. However, it is well known that sewage sludge without special treatment contains various pollutants, which are (re)introduced into the environment by sludge landspreading and which might in turn have harmful effects on the environment and human health. This is more dangerous in places like Merida, Mexico, where soil is calcareous with fractures along the ground and thin layers of humus. Consequently, any liquid and semisolid wastes have the potential of percolating to the subsurface and contaminate the aquifer. The main aim of this work was using composting as a low cost process to eliminate pathogens contained in sewage sludge from MWW treatment in order to use the final product for land spreading in a safe way for both environment and human health. Two piles for composting process at real scale were settled using a mixture of sewage sludge from municipal waste water and green waste. Composting was carried out by windrow process and it was monitored during four weeks. Concentration of helminth eggs, salmonella and faecal coliforms were measured twice a week to observe its behavior and, as a control process, Temperature, Moisture Content (MC), and pH were also measured. After 30 days of composting sludge from municipal waste water system, salmonella was eliminated by 99%, faecal coliforms by 96% and helminth eggs by 81%. After 3 months compost reached GI = 160%, so did not show any phytotoxicity to seeds.

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