Abstract The use of organic matter from compost to promote the catalytic photodegradation of micropollutants by solar light appears to be environmentally promising. However, quantitative evaluation of the photodegradation potential of the compost is needed. Our goal was to measure the formation rate of hydroxyl radicals and singlet oxygen, two strongly oxidant species, from irradiated compost organic matter. These two reactive species were photogenerated in all of our extracts regardless of the origin of the compost or the extraction procedure; however, their formation rates increased with composting time. Two herbicides and a fungicide were successfully photodegraded when irradiated with simulated or natural solar light in the presence of the compost organic matter or compost suspensions. For reasons of simplification and ease, the use of the latter is recommended in practice.