Heavy metals in composts of China: historical changes, regional variation, and potential impact on soil quality.


Composts are considered one of major sources that contribute heavy metals to the environment. The objective of this study was to investigate historical changes and spatial variation of metal concentrations in Chinese composts by analysing representative compost samples and published data from 2002 to 2013. Mean concentrations of cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), lead (Pb), arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), and copper (Cu) in the composts were 2.42, 35.52, 32.38, 16.33, 0.32, 258.1, 9.71, and 72.24 mg kg-1, respectively. The percentages of samples with metal concentration exceeding critical levels of Chinese standards for organic fertilizers (NY525-2012) were 28.7, 18.3, 9.6, 1.7, and 0.9%, respectively, for Cd, As, Pb, Cr, and Hg. Modelling predicts that it would take 18, 24, 29, and 48 years for Cu, Zn, Hg, and Cd to reach Category I Environmental Capacity of China (GB15618-1995) according to current application rate. During the 2002-2013 period, concentration of Cd in composts tended to decrease with time, whereas those of Zn, Cu, and As were opposite, which is likely due to less or no control for these elements. Concentrations of Cu, Zn, As, and Cd were generally higher in composts from the economically developed regions in China, where more commercial farms were built that use metal-spiked feeds. Manures from the commercial farms generally had higher metal concentration, as compared to the subsistence farms. Further research is needed to monitor metal concentrations from source materials to composts and assess long-term impact of compost application on soil quality.

DOI: 10.1007/s11356-016-8057-3

Cite this paper

@article{Ding2017HeavyMI, title={Heavy metals in composts of China: historical changes, regional variation, and potential impact on soil quality.}, author={Fenghua Ding and Zhenli He and Shuxin Liu and Sihai Zhang and Fengliang Zhao and Qinfen Li and Peter J Stoffella}, journal={Environmental science and pollution research international}, year={2017}, volume={24 3}, pages={3194-3209} }