A potential method for cleaning water from point-source pollution by organic compounds is using biological reactors. In this study, four reactors were tested for their ability to retain and degrade pesticides. The pesticides tested were the insecticide chlorpyrifos, the fungicide metalaxyl and the herbicide imazamox. The reactors were filled with differing mixtures of vine-branch, citrus peel, urban waste and public green compost. The reactor volume was 188 1. Forced circulation of the contaminated solution was programmed to decontaminate the solution. Both retention and degradation of the compounds by the reactors was studied.Chlorpyrifos was the best retained, due to its physico-chemical characteristics, while only one substrate effectively retained metalaxyl and imazamox (citrus peel + urban waste compost). Degradation of the pesticides in the reactors was faster than published values for degradation in soil. The half-life of all pesticides in the reactors was less than 14 days, compared to literature values of 60-70 days in soil. The combined retention and fast degradation make the biofilter a feasible technique to reduce spill-related and point environmental contamination by pesticides. The technique is most effective against persistent pesticides, while for mobile pesticides, the efficiency can be improved with several passages of the contaminated solution through biofilters.
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