Microbiological degradation of pesticides in yard waste composting.
Fogarty, Andrew M.
Tuovinen, Olli H.
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Changes in public opinion and legislation have led to the general recognition that solid waste treatment practices must be changed. Solid-waste disposal by landfill is becoming increasingly expensive and regulated and no longer represents a long-term option in view of limited land space and environmental problems. Yard waste, a significant component of municipal solid waste, has previously not been separated from the municipal solid-waste stream. The treatment of municipal solid waste including yard waste must urgently be addressed because disposal via landfill will be prohibited by legislation. Separation of yard waste from municipal solid waste will be mandated in many localities, thus stressing the importance of scrutinizing current composting practices in treating grass clippings, leaves, and other yard residues. Yard waste poses a potential environmental health problem as a result of the widespread use of pesticides in lawn and tree care and the persistence of the residues of these chemicals in plant tissue. Yard waste containing pesticides may present a problem due to the recalcitrant and toxic nature of the pesticide molecules. Current composting processes are based on various modifications of either window systems or in-vessel systems. Both types of processes are ultimately dependent on microbial bioconversions of organic material to innocuous end products. The critical stage of the composting process is the thermophilic phase. The fate and mechanism of removal of pesticides in composting processes is largely unknown and in need of comprehensive analysis.
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