Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins

Date:
January 4, 2000
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
A family of four burning trash in a barrel in their backyard - still a common practice in many rural areas - can potentially put as much dioxin and furan into the air as a well-controlled municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of households, according to a new study.

Family's Daily Trash Burn Can Rival Emissions from Municipal Waste Incinerator

A family of four burning trash in a barrel in their backyard - still a common practice in many rural areas - can potentially put as much dioxin and furan into the air as a well-controlled municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of households, according to a new study. Under intense scrutiny in recent years because of their varying degrees of toxicity, these polychlorinated compounds can be formed simply by burning common household trash at low temperatures.

The finding is reported in the Jan. 4 web edition of the journal Environmental Science & Technology by researchers from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health. The peer-reviewed journal is published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society. The report will appear in the journal's Feb. 1 print edition.

"Open burning of household waste in barrels is potentially one of the largest sources of airborne dioxin and furan emissions in the United States, particularly as EPA standards force major reductions in emissions from municipal and medical waste incinerators," says Paul Lemieux, Ph.D., one of the study's co-authors. He is with the EPA's National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Emission measurements from burning of "typical" household trash in 55-gallon drums were done at the EPA's Open Burning Test Facility in North Carolina. The composition of the trash included newspapers, books, magazines, junk mail, cardboard, milk cartons, food waste, various types of plastic, and assorted cans, bottles and jars. No paint, grease, oils, tires or other household hazardous wastes were included in the burning. The barrel burn results were compared with emission data from a "well-controlled incinerator performing better than the dioxin requirements set by recent EPA standards," according to Lemieux.

"Recognizing that there are varied wastes and methods of burning, this particular study found that under test conditions, more polychlorinated compounds were emitted from barrel burning than municipal incinerators because of lower incineration temperatures and poor combustion conditions (in barrels)," says Lemieux.

Under the conditions studied, and when using comparable weights of trash, "emissions from open burning are several orders of magnitude higher than for controlled combustion in a modern, clean-operating MWC (municipal waste combustor)," the article claims.

"Triggered by the study being reported, EPA has launched follow-up studies at its North Carolina test facility to better understand the nature and magnitude of backyard trash burning as a significant dioxin source," notes Lemieux.

The study could help resolve a long-standing discrepancy as a result of a 1994 EPA assessment that identified a "significant gap" between estimates of dioxin emissions and actual deposition measurements, according to the journal article. Emissions of dioxins and furans from burn barrels "may be an important missing link to help close the gap between measured deposition rates and the emissions inventories," the article points out.

Burning trash in open barrels is banned in most areas of the U.S., says Ann Brown of the EPA's Public Affairs Office in Research Triangle Park. "The areas of the country where burning trash is permitted are mostly confined to rural areas," she adds.

Although dioxins and furans have been shown to damage the health of laboratory animals, direct evidence of the compounds' effects in humans is less clear but still cause for concern, according to Scott Matsen, Ph.D., of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park.

"Exposure to certain dioxins has been clearly shown to cause adverse effects in laboratory animals, such as immune dysfunction, cancer, hormonal changes and developmental abnormalities," says Matsen. "Although the available evidence for adverse effects in people is more limited than for laboratory animals, the sum total of the information is cause for concern about the human health hazards of environmental exposure to this class of chemicals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 January 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000104064534.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2000, January 4). Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000104064534.htm
American Chemical Society. "Backyard Burning Identified As Potential Major Source Of Dioxins." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/01/000104064534.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

Pyrenees Orphan Bear Cub Gets Brand New Home

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) — The discovery of a bear cub in the Pyrenees mountains made headlines in April 2014. Despire several attempts to find the animal's mother, the cub remained alone. Now, the Pyrenees Conservation Foundation has constructed an enclosure. Duration: 00:31 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

Greenpeace Ship Arctic Sunrise Free to Leave Russia

AFP (Aug. 1, 2014) — Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise, held in custody by the Russian authorities since September last year, has departed the Russian city of Murmansk en route for its home port of Amsterdam. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins