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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Submissions: Agricultural Air Quality

Odorants and Malodors Associated with Land Application of Biosolids Stabilized with Lime and Coal Fly Ash


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 5, p. 1405-1415
    Received: Jan 23, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): laor@agri.gov.il
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  1. Yael Laor *a,
  2. Moshe Naora,
  3. Uzi Ravida,
  4. Pinchas Fineb,
  5. Ilan Halachmia,
  6. Yona Chenc and
  7. Rima Baybikova
  1. a Y. Laor, M. Naor, and U. Ravid, Ilan Halachmi, and Rima Baybikov, Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Research Center, Ramat Yishay, Israel 30095
    b Pinchas Fine, Agricultural Research Organization, Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel 50250
    c Yona Chen, Dep. of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel 76100. Assigned to Associate Editor Mingxin Guo


Malodor emissions limit public acceptance of using municipal biosolids as natural organic resources in agricultural production. We aimed to identify major odorants and to evaluate odor concentrations associated with land application of anaerobically digested sewage sludges (Class B) and their alkaline (lime and coal fly ash)-stabilized products (Class A). These two types of biosolids were applied at 12.6 tonnes ha−1 (dry weight) to microplots of very fine clayey Vertisol in the Jezreel Valley, northern Israel. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from the biosolids before and during alkaline stabilization and after incorporation into the soil were analyzed by headspace solid-phase microextraction followed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Odor concentrations at the plots were evaluated on site with a Nasal Ranger field olfactometer that sniffed over a defined land surface area through a static chamber. The odors emitted by anaerobically digested sewage sludges from three activated sludge water treatment plants had one characteristic chemical fingerprint. Alkaline stabilization emitted substantial odors associated with high concentrations of ammonia and release of nitrogen-containing VOCs and did not effectively reduce the potential odor annoyance. Odorous VOCs could be generated within the soil after biosolids incorporation, presumably because of anaerobic conditions within soil–biosolids aggregates. We propose that dimethyl disulfide and dimethyl trisulfide, which seem to be most related to the odor concentrations of biosolids-treated soil, be used as potential chemical markers for the odor annoyance associated with incorporation of anaerobically digested sewage sludges.

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