Urban-waste compost (UWC) can be used as a biofilter filling to reduce the effects of pesticide spills. Here, water that was contaminated by three different pesticides, the insecticide chlorpyrifos (Chl), the fungicide metalaxyl (Meta) and the herbicide glyphosate (Gly), was percolated through 2 kg of UWC material. The pesticide residues in the leached water and the modifications induced in some of the UWC biochemical and microbiological parameters (including microbial biomass carbon (MBC) and nitrogen (MBN), and fluorescein diacetate (FDA) hydrolysis, alkaline monophosphatase (AMP) and dehydrogenase (DH) activities) were investigated over 2 months of incubation at 20 degrees C. The UWC showed a good retention capacity towards the three pesticides tested, with the highest efficiency for Gly. Chl caused an initial detrimental effect on the MBC content and a decrease in the FDA hydrolysis capacity, while Meta and Gly increased the MBC content throughout the incubation. The results demonstrate that UWC can be successfully used as a biofilter to reduce pesticide spills and to clean up water contaminated with pesticides. The evaluation of the modifications induced on the UWC MBC and MBN, and FDA hydrolysis, AMP and DH activities suggest different biodegradation potentials of the UWC micro-organisms vs. the three pesticides studied.
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