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Newsprint samples collected from 12-16 ft (top layer (TNP)), 20-24 ft (middle layer (MNP)), and 32-36 ft (bottom layer (BNP)) below the surface of the Norman Landfill (NLF) were characterized by infrared (IR) spectroscopy, cross-polarization, magic-angle spinning 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (CP-MAS 13C NMR) spectroscopy, and tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) thermochemolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The extent of NLF newsprint degradation was evaluated by comparing the chemical composition of NLF newsprint to that of fresh newsprint (FNP) and newsprint degraded in the laboratory under methanogenic conditions (DNP). The O-alkyl/alkyl, cellulose/lignin, and lignin/resin acid ratios showed that BNP was the most degraded, and that all three NLF newsprint samples were more degraded than DNP. 13C NMR and TMAH thermochemolysis data demonstrated selective enrichment of lignin over cellulose, and TMAH thermochemolysis further exhibited selective enrichment of resin acids over lignin. In addition, the crystallinity of cellulose in NLF newsprint samples was significantly lower relative to that of FNP and DNP as shown by 13C NMR spectra. The yield of lignin monomers from TMAH thermochemolysis suggested that hydroxyl groups were removed from the propyl side chain of lignin during the anaerobic decomposition of newsprint in the NLF. Moreover, the vanillyl acid/aldehyde ratio, which successfully describes aerobic lignin degradation, was not a good indicator of the anaerobic degradation of lignin on the basis of the TMAH data. The toluene sorption capacity increased as the degree of newsprint degradation increased or as the O-alkyl/alkyl ratio of newsprint decreased. The results of this study further verified that the sorbent O-alkyl/ alkyl ratio is useful for predicting sorption capacities of natural organic materials for hydrophobic organic contaminants.

Citation

Lixia Chen, Mark A Nanny, Detlef R U Knappe, Travis B Wagner, Nopawan Ratasuk. Chemical characterization and sorption capacity measurements of degraded newsprint from a landfill. Environmental science & technology. 2004 Jul 1;38(13):3542-50

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PMID: 15296303

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