Environmental contextualisation of potential toxic elements and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in biochar

Alessia Freddo, Chao Cai, Brain J. Reid

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Nine dissimilar biochars, produced from varying feedstock at different pyrolysis temperatures, are appraised with respect to concentrations of potentially toxic elements, specifically, metals, metalloids and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Concentrations of the metals and metalloids varied with the following ranges (mg kg−1): 0.02–0.94, Cd; 0.12–6.48, Cr; 0.04–13.2, Cu; 0.1–1.37, Ni; 0.06–3.87, Pb; 0.94–207, Zn and 0.03–0.27, As. Σ16PAH concentrations (16 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) PAHs) range between 0.08 mg kg−1 to 8.7 mg kg−1. Subsequent comparison with background soil concentrations, concentration applied to the regulation of composted materials (Publicly Available Specification (PAS 100)) and European Union (EU) regulations relating to the application of sewage sludge to agricultural land suggest low risk associated with the concentrations of PTEs observed in biochar. Collectively, results suggest that environmental impacts attributable to metals, metalloids and PAHs associated with biochar following its application to soil are likely to be minimal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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