Assessment of Landfill Leachate Toxicity Reduction After Biological Treatment

  • Anita Jemec
  • Tatjana Tišler
  • Andreja Žgajnar-Gotvajn


In the present article, the efficiency of biological treatment of landfill leachates was evaluated by implementation of physicochemical characterisation and a complex toxicity assessment. An array of toxicity tests using bacterium Vibrio fischeri, alga Desmodesmus subspicatus, crustacean Daphnia magna, and embryo of fish Danio rerio, as well as unconventional methods using biochemical biomarkers (protein content, enzymes cholinesterase, and glutathione-S-transferase), were employed. Toxicity of leachates varied depending on the season of collection in relation to their different physicochemical characteristics. Uncommon effects of leachates on organisms, such as hormetic-like increases of algal growth and reproduction of daphnids, were identified. New approaches using the activities of enzymes were found unsuitable for routine hazard assessment of leachates. Although physicochemical parameters and toxicity decreased significantly after biological treatment, the effluents did not meet the demands of the current Slovenian legislation; thus, the existing biological treatment was found inappropriate. The development of advanced treatment techniques for landfill leachates is thus encouraged.


Chemical Oxygen Demand Toxicity Test Biological Treatment Algal Growth Sequence Batch Reactor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Polona Zevnik, Emil Meden, and Tina Bobnar for technical assistance. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic Slovenia through research programs P2-0150 and P2-191.


  1. Assmuth T, Penttilä S (1995) Characteristics, determinants and interpretations of acute lethality in daphnids exposed to complex waste leachates. Aquat Toxicol 31:125–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baun A, Ledin A, Reitzel LA, Bjerg PL, Christensen TH (2004) Xenobiotic organic compounds in leachates from ten Danish MSW landfills: chemical analysis and toxicity tests. Water Res 38:3845–3858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bernard C, Guido P, Colin J, Le Dû-Delepierre A (1996) Estimation of the hazard of landfills through toxicity testing of leachates. I. Determination of leachate toxicity with a battery of acute tests. Chemosphere 33:2303–2320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bernard C, Colin JR, Le Dû-Delepierre A (1997) Estimation of the hazard of landfills through toxicity testing of leachates. 2. Comparison of physico-chemical characteristics of landfill leachates with their toxicity determined with a battery of tests. Chemosphere 35:2783–2796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bila DM, Montalvao AF, Silva AC, Dezotti M (2005) Ozonation of a landfill leachate: evaluation of toxicity removal and biodegradability improvement. J Hazard Mater 117:235–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bodar CWM, Van Leeuwen CJ, Voogt PA, Zandee DI (1988) Effect of cadmium on the reproduction strategy of Daphnia magna. Aquat Toxicol 12:301–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Booth LH, O’Halloran K (2001) A comparison of biomarker responses in the earthworm Aporrectodea caliginosa to the organophosphorous insecticides diazinon and chlorpyrifos. Environ Toxicol Chem 20:2494–2502Google Scholar
  8. Brown RJ, Galloway TS, Lowe D, Browne MA, Dissanayake A, Jones MB et al (2004) Differential sensitivity of three marine invertebrates to copper assessed using multiple biomarkers. Aquat Toxicol 66:267–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Calabrese EJ (2008) Hormesis: why it is important to toxicology and toxicologists. Environ Toxicol Chem 27:1451–1474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clément B, Merlin G (1995) The contribution of ammonia and alkalinity to landfill leachate toxicity to duckweed. Sci Total Environ 170:71–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dave G, Nilsson E (2005) Increased reproductive toxicity of landfill leachate after degradation was caused by nitrite. Aquat Toxicol 73:11–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eurostat (2010). Municipal waste generation and treatment, by type of treatment method (kg per capita). Available at: Accessed: January 15, 2010
  13. Flaherty CM, Dodson SI (2005) Effects of pharmaceuticals on daphnia survival, growth, and reproduction. Chemosphere 61:200–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goi A, Veressinina Y, Trapido M (2009) Combination of ozonation and the Fenton processes for landfill leachate treatment: evaluation of treatment efficiency. Ozone: Sci Eng: J Int Ozone Assoc 31:28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goi A, Veressinina Y, Trapido M (2010) Fenton process for landfill leachate treatment: evaluation of biodegradability and toxicity. J Environ Eng 136:46–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guilhermino L, Barros P, Silva MC, Soares AMVM (1998) Should the use of inhibition of cholinesterases as a specific biomarker for organophosphate and carbamate pesticides be questioned? Biomarkers 3:157–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hammers-Wirtz M, Ratte HT (2000) Offspring fitness in daphnia: Is the daphnia reproduction test appropriate for extrapolating effects on the population level? Environ Toxicol Chem 19:1856–1866Google Scholar
  18. Hebert PDN (1978) The population biology of daphnia (Crustacea: Daphnidae). Biol Rev 53:387–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 10260 (1992) Water quality―Measurement of biochemical parameters―Spectrometric determination of the chlorophyll-a concentration. ISO, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  20. Isidori M, Lavorgna M, Nardelli A, Parrella A (2003) Toxicity identification evaluation of leachates from municipal solid waste landfills: a multispecies approach. Chemosphere 52:85–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jemec A, Tišler T, Drobne D, Sepčić K, Fournier D, Trebše P (2007a) Comparative toxicity of imidacloprid, of its commercial liquid formulation and of diazinon to a non-target arthropod, the microcrustacean Daphnia magna. Chemosphere 68:1408–1418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jemec A, Drobne D, Tišler T, Trebše P, Roš M, Sepčić K (2007b) The applicability of acetylcholinesterase and glutathione S-transferase in Daphnia magna toxicity test. Comp Biochem Physiol C 144:303–309Google Scholar
  23. Jemec A, Drobne D, Tišler T, Sepčić K (2010) Biochemical biomarkers in environmental studies—lessons learnt from enzymes catalase, glutathione S-transferase and cholinesterase in two crustacean species. Environ Sci Pollut 17:571–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jensen DL, Christensen TH (1999) Colloidal and dissolved metals in leachates from four Danish landfills. Water Res 33:2139–2147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kammann U, Biselli S, Hühnerfuss H, Reineke N, Theobald N, Vobach M et al (2004) Genotoxic and teratogenic potential of marine sediment extracts investigated with comet assay and zebrafish test. Environ Pollut 132:279–287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kjeldsen P, Barlaz MA, Rooker AP, Baun A, Ledin A, Christensen TH (2002) Present and long-term composition of MSW landfill leachate: a review. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 32:297–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Knowles CO, McKee MJ (1987) Protein and nucleic acid content in Daphnia magna during chronic exposure to cadmium. Ecotox Environ Safe 13:290–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lambolez L, Vasseur P, Ferard JF, Gisbert T (1994) The environmental risks of industrial waste disposal: an experimental approach including acute and chronic toxicity studies. Ecotox Environ Safe 28:317–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lammer E, Carr GJ, Wendler K, Rawlings JM, Belanger SE, Braunbeck T (2009) Is the fish embryo toxicity test (FET) with the zebrafish (Danio rerio) a potential alternative for the fish acute toxicity test? Comp Biochem Physiol C 149:196–209Google Scholar
  30. Marttinen SK, Kettunen RH, Sormunen KM, Soimasuo RM, Rintala JA (2002) Screening of physical-chemical methods for removal of organic material, nitrogen and toxicity from low strength landfill leachates. Chemosphere 46:851–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Official Gazette of Republic of Slovenia (2008) Decree on the emission of substances in the discharge of landfill leachate, ULRS 62/2008 196–215 [in Slovene]Google Scholar
  32. Rodriguez P, Martinez-Madrid M, Cid A (2006) Ecotoxicological assessment of effluents in the Basque country (Northern Spain) by acute and chronic toxicity tests using Daphnia magna Straus. Ecotoxicology 15:559–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Romani R, Atognelli C, Baldracchini F, De Santis A, Isani G, Giovannini E et al (2003) Increased acetylcholinesterase activities in specimens of Sparus auratus exposed to sublethal copper concentrations. Chem Biol Interact 145:321–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rutherford LA, Matthews SL, Doe KG, Julien GRJ (2000) Aquatic toxicity and environmental impact of leachate discharges from a municipal landfill. Water Qual Res J Can 35:39–57Google Scholar
  35. Scholz S, Fischer S, Gündel U, Küster E, Luckenbach T, Voelker D (2008) The zebrafish embryo model in environmental risk assessment: applications beyond acute toxicity testing. Environ Sci Pollut 15:394–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Silva AC, Dezotti M, Sant’Anna GL (2004) Treatment and detoxification of a sanitary landfill leachate. Chemosphere 55:207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Slomczynska B, Wasowski J, Slomczynski T (2004) Effect of advanced oxidation processes on the toxicity of municipal landfill leachates. Water Sci Technol 49:273–277Google Scholar
  38. Thomas DJL, Tyrrel SF, Smith R, Farrow S (2009) Bioassays for the evaluation of landfill leachate toxicity. J Toxicol Environ Health B 12:83–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tišler T, Zagorc-Končan J (1999) Toxicity evaluation of wastewater from the pharmaceutical industry to aquatic organisms. Water Sci Technol 39:71–76Google Scholar
  40. Tišler T, Zagorc-Končan J (2007) The “whole-effluent” toxicity approach. Int J Environ Pollut 31:3–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tišler T, Jemec A, Mozetič B, Trebše P (2009) Hazard identification of imidacloprid to aquatic environment. Chemosphere 76:907–914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ward ML, Bitton G, Townsend T, Booth M (2002) Determining toxicity of leachates from Florida municipal solid waste landfills using a battery-of-tests approach. Environ Toxicol 17:258–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Žgajnar Gotvajn A, Derco J, Tišler T, Cotman M, Zagorc-Končan J (2009) Removal of organics from different types of landfill leachate by ozonation. Water Sci Technol 60:597–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anita Jemec
    • 1
  • Tatjana Tišler
    • 1
  • Andreja Žgajnar-Gotvajn
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory for Environmental Sciences and EngineeringNational Institute of ChemistryLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical TechnologyUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations