Changes of Cu, Zn, and Cd speciation in sewage sludge during composting

The potential toxicity risks from heavy metals depend on their chemical speciation. The four stages of the Tessier sequential extraction method were employed to investigate changes in heavy metal speciation (Cu, Zn, and Cd) of sewage sludge during forced aeration composting, and then to identify whether the composting process would reduce or enhance their toxicities. Throughout the composting process, the exchangeable, carbonate-bound, Fe-Mn oxide-bound, and organic matter-bound fractions of Cu were converted to the residual Cu fraction. The organic matter-bound Cu fraction greatly contributed to this transformation. Residual Zn fraction was transformed to the Fe-Mn oxide-bound and organic matter-bound fractions after composting. The residual Zn fraction was a major contributor to the organic matter-bound Zn fraction. The availability of Cu and Zn was reduced by composting such that the risk of heavy metal toxicity decreased with prolonged treatment times. Additionally, attention should be paid to the increased availability of Cd in sewage sludge after composting treatment.

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