The purpose of this work was to study the risks of water pollution due to the use of mixtures containing wood ash and sewage sludge. Mixtures including sludge and ash may be recycled as fertilizers, and they are economical as they do not integrate commercial limes, but Escherichia coli
counts may keep significantly high in such mixtures, because their pH is not alkaline enough. In view of that, it seems interesting to study the E. coli
survival in lixiviate from ash–sludge mixtures including limes rather than from ash–sludge mixtures alone. Two kinds of experiments were performed using laboratory column trials under saturated flow conditions. The first experiment investigated the chemical leaching behaviour of a mixture of 70% timber-industry wood ashes and 30% urban sewage sludge (% dry weight) at doses equivalent to 10 and 30 Mg/ha. The second experiment studied the survival of E. coli
in lixiviates generated from 30 Mg/ha of a mixture consisting in 75% wood ash, 20% sewage sludge and 5% quicklime (% dry weight). In the first experiment, admixture of the ash and sludge achieved a stabilization of elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, nickle, carbon monoxide, cadmium, chromium and molybdenum that reduced their solubility compared with that in the ash or sludge alone. Significant solubilisation of heavy metals was not observed, with overall minor risk of chemical water pollution. In the second experiment, although including quicklime E. coli
counts were still detected in the lixiviate, indicating risk of water contamination.