Furthering understanding of emissions from landfilled waste containing POP-BFRs and PFASs (FUEL)

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Resource or Project Abstract

"Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have found extensive use in electrical and electronic goods, soft furnishings, and building insulation foam to impart flame retardancy and stain resistance. Following concerns about their persistence, ability to bioaccumulate and adverse health effects in humans and wildlife, some BFRs and PFASs have been listed under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), an international treaty designed to eliminate POPs from the environment. While such actions have severely restricted the manufacture and new use of such contaminants; there remains a substantial reservoir that has entered the waste stream and will continue to do so for some years. Moreover, despite Irish national and EU policies severely limiting use of landfill, many items treated with BFRs and PFASs are likely present in Irish landfills. This is concerning, as reports from other countries show landfill leachate contains such chemicals. In this study, we measured PFASs, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) in leachate from 40 landfills within the Republic of Ireland. Levels detected were within the range previously reported elsewhere. Average concentrations of PFASs exceeded those of PBDEs and HBCDD. Concentrations of some PBDEs and PFASs were significantly (p<0.05) higher in leachate from newer, lined landfills than in samples from unlined landfills. This is likely because lined landfills retain organic matter leading to a higher organic content of leachate in such landfills and supported by the significant (p<0.05) correlation between concentrations in leachate of most of the same contaminants and those of chemical oxygen demand (COD) ? an indicator of organic matter content.
In a second phase, air and soil samples were collected from locations downwind and upwind of 10 of Irish landfills. Groundwater was also collected from locations with links traceable to the studied landfills. Concentrations of PFASs, PBDEs, HBCDD, and decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) in air and soil samples were not significantly different (p>0.05) between downwind and upwind locations. The arithmetic mean concentration of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in groundwater from landfills (n=4) that were not fully lined (69 ng/L) exceeded that in groundwater sourced from lined landfills (n=6; 4.1 ng/L), although this was not statistically significant (p>0.1). A positive correlation (p=0.014) was observed between concentrations of PFOA in groundwater and those in leachate from the same landfills. However, this was driven substantially by one landfill that displayed the highest concentrations in both groundwater and leachate. DBDPE was detected in groundwater for the first time anywhere, in all samples at concentrations (median = 9.4 ng/L; arithmetic mean = 78 ng/L) that exceeded those of any of the other BFRs or PFASs measured. This likely reflects its use as a ?drop-in? replacement for the recently restricted decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209).
Laboratory experiments were conducted to examine leaching of BDE-209 and HBCDD from fabrics. Concentrations in leachate were markedly higher in the first 24 hours, diminishing by an order of magnitude after 1 week. The influence of the waste:leachate ratio was examined, with leaching of both BDE-209 and HBCDD significantly greater (p<0.05) at a waste:leachate ratio of 0.005 g/mL than at 0.05 g/mL. Using dissolved humic matter (DHM) solutions as proxies for organic landfill leachates, leaching of both BDE-209 and HBCDD was significantly greater at higher DHM concentrations. Agitation of waste:leachate mixtures significantly enhanced leaching. While leaching of HBCDD decreased significantly as leachate pH increased from 5.8, through 6.5, to 8.5; no significant impact of pH on leaching of BDE-209 was detected. Concentrations in leachate of both BDE-209 and HBCDD decreased significantly on increasing leachate temperature from 20 ˚C to 60 ˚C and 80 ˚C. This is considered most likely due to volatilisation of these contaminants into the headspace of the leaching vessel at higher temperatures.
Finally, a desktop study suggests that even over the estimated 75 year aftercare timeline of most landfills, emissions via leaching represent only a very small fraction of PBDEs, HBCDD, and PFASs present in the Irish waste stream.
The following recommendations are made.
Concentrations of PFASs in groundwater potentially impacted by un- or partially-lined landfills should be monitored closely.
 Leaching of BFRs and PFASs may be minimised by reducing the organic matter content of leachate.
 Further monitoring in landfill leachate and groundwater of concentrations of DBDPE and other chemicals designed as replacements for restricted BFRs and PFASs is recommended. "

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Contact Information for This Resource

Prof. Stuart Harrad
University of Birmingham

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Att 1    FUEL_METADATA_laboratory_leaching_experiment_data.docx   (0.04 Mb)
Att 2    FUEL_METADATA_landfill_air_soil_groundwater.docx   (0.05 Mb)
Att 3    FUEL_METADATA_landfill_leachate.docx   (0.04 Mb)

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Author(s)Harrad, S.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationFurthering understanding of emissions from landfilled waste containing POP-BFRs and PFASs (FUEL)
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=be12f885-218c-11ea-b1e4-005056ae0019
Unique Identifierbe12f885-218c-11ea-b1e4-005056ae0019
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2024-06-25

An example of this citation in proper usage:

Harrad, S.   "Furthering understanding of emissions from landfilled waste containing POP-BFRs and PFASs (FUEL)". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=be12f885-218c-11ea-b1e4-005056ae0019 (Last Accessed: 2024-06-25)


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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL https://eparesearch.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=3185
Resource KeywordsLandfill leachate; air pollution; soil pollution; groundwater pollution; POPs
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2016-HW-MS-8
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeNot Applicable
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Limitations on the use of this ResourceNONE
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 3
Project Start Date Tuesday 1st November 2016 (01-11-2016)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 1st June 2017 (01-06-2017)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Thursday 31st January 2019 (31-01-2019)
Published on SAFERWednesday 18th December 2019 (18-12-2019)
Date of Last EditWednesday 18th December 2019 at 12:07:34 (18-12-2019)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 18th December 2019 at 12:07:34 (18-12-2019)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
The locations of the landfills sampled are indicated on the map provided in the Technical and Synthesis Reports. They were located throughout the Republic of Ireland.

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
The project was based on a proposal submitted in response to the EPA Sustainability 2015 Call - Project 30
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