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Are biodegradable wastes automatically conservative?

1 Answer
Dec 26, 2017


Not always.


Biodegradable (or nonconservative) wastes degrade in the nature. There are nonbiodegradable wastes, however, that are subject to be conserved. Meaning that there is no reaction occurring (no radioactive decay, bacterial decomposition, biochemical decay or chemical decay). Examples of substances that are typically accepted as conservative include heavy metals in soil (such as a battery), carbon dioxide in air, total dissolved solids in a water body (a lake or a river).

When you prepare a salty water to wash your feet, for instance, you pour it into the sink. Salt (NaCl) is totally dissolved in that water and it is conservative in the system.

Not all human wastes are biodegradable.