Removal of landfill leachate toxicity and genotoxicity by two treatment methods

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Leachates from active and closed municipal solid waste landfills can be a major source of contamination to groundwater and surface waters. In the present study the toxic and genotoxic potential of leachate from an old sanitary landfill prior to and following chemical and electrochemical treatments were assessed using Lemna, Allium, and comet tests. Photosynthetic pigments, malondialdehyde (indicator of lipid peroxidation) and antioxidant enzyme activities were evaluated as additional indicators of toxicity in duckweed. Following duckweed exposure to 25 % dilution of landfill leachate, growth rate and photosynthetic pigments content significantly decreased while lipid peroxidation increased despite stimulation of antioxidative defence mechanisms. Diluted leachate induced DNA strand breaks in duckweed cells as evidenced by the comet assay. Regarding the Allium test, untreated leachate caused inhibition of Allium cepa cell division and induction of mitotic and chromosomal aberrations. Although both water treatments completely reduced genotoxicity of leachate, the electrochemical method was found to be more efficient in removing toxic substances present in landfill leachate and thus more suitable for treating such leachates prior to their discharge into the environment. As landfill leachates pose a risk to human health and environment in general due to their (geno)toxicity, the present study demonstrates that the ecotoxicity/genotoxicity assays should be used in leachate risk assessment together with physicochemical analysis.

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