BIODEGRADATIVE CAPACITY OF A CONSORTIUM OF FUNGI ON SOILED SANITARY NAPKINS: A PILOT STUDYBARGHAVI R. IYER AND PAVITHRA AMRITKUMAR
The major issue with the usage of commonly available plastic-lined sanitary napkins is environmental hazard with its common disposal methods being either incineration or landfill. As soiled napkins are laden with body fluids and tissue, they can potentially attract pathological microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. The present study explored the possibility of biodegradation of soiled sanitary napkins using a consortium of fungi, in a safer way, before releasing into the environment. A fungal consortium grown in minimal broth was used for degradation and the approach was compared to the common disposal methods- incineration and soil-burial. The efficiency and safety of the three methods were compared and analyzed. Within 45 days of incubation, our broth-incubation method showed marked levels of degradation. Components of the incinerated sample was identified by Differential Scanning Colorimetry (DSC)- ASTM D-3418 which indicated LLDPE, cotton and Polypropylene (PP). Ash content analysis (ASTM D-5630) showed 0.07% residues. Degradative abilities of soil-buried and broth-incubation methods were compared by morphological and dry weight analysis, FTIR spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques. The percentage weight loss of soil buried sample was 41.52% and broth incubated sample was 77.98%. The broth used was checked for simple organic acids-citric acid and oxalic acid. Plate assays qualitatively revealed the presence of amylase, xylanase and protease enzymes and quantity of alkaline protease and pectinase was found to be 1.4g/L and 0.1825mg/mL, respectively. FTIR results showed maximum triple bond breakage and enzyme activity in broth sample and breakdown of LLDPE to aliphatic alkane. Soil burial method also showed diffuse conversion to alkane and alkene along with formation of sulfoxides and halo-compounds. XRD studies showed highest degree of polymer surface disruption in broth sample, confirming this method to have better efficiency in degradation.
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