Municipal refuse was allowed to decompose in a simulated landfill for 20 months. Three different models were studied in which the refuse, in 40 m3lots, was either compacted or mixed 2:1 with sewage sludge, the latter being studied in both uncompacted and compacted states. At 2, 6, 12 and 20 months, humic substances were extracted from samples with 0.1M Na2P4O7and 0.1M NaOH, and humic acids isolated by precipitation after acidification with HCl. The humic substances were examined by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) to determine the free radical content and the nature of some of the metal complexes present. The principal form of copper was present in either a square planar or a tetragonally-distorted octahedral environment, probably coordinated to two nitrogen and two oxygen atoms. Fe3+was present in at least three different environments. In one, it was probably in a complex with rhombic symmetry; another showed Fe3+in an axially-symmetric environment, most likely as a ferric porphyrin. No distinctions could be made between the concentrations or forms of metals present in the refuse humic substances as a result of adding sewage sludge, but the additions increased the yield of humic substances, particularly in the uncompacted landfill. Humic substances in the refuse retain metal elements in complexed forms which will restrict their release from the landfill. © 1985.
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