Dioxins and Furans
Dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzodioxin, PCDD) and furans (polychlorinated dibenzofuran, PCDF) are a family of chemicals that are generated when certain types of materials containing chlorine are combusted. Modern EfW plants have sophisticated air emission control systems that remove dioxins and furans.
An independent report for Defra estimated that accidental fires account for 16% of total dioxin and furan emissions each year in the UK, and bonfire night accounts for 14% whereas EfW accounts for less than half of one per cent of the total emissions (0.27%).
The EU Waste Incineration Directive (WID) requires dioxin and furan emission levels of less than 0.1 ng/m3. As a result, EfW only makes a very minor contribution to these in the environment.
Research has shown that living near a modern EfW facility combusting municipal solid waste does not increase the risk of exposure to dioxins and furans.
(Ulaszewska et al., 2011, citing: Schuhmacher et al. 2002; 2004; 2007;2009; Reis et al. 2007)
Available data demonstrate that implementation of stringent regulations for EfW facilities in the USA and EU have resulted in over 99% reduction in dioxin emissions compared to emissions in 1990.
More on dioxins and furans in EfW
- Kulkarni, P. S., J. G. Crespo, et al. (2008). "Dioxins sources and current remediation technologies - A review." Environment International 34(1): 139-153.
- McKay, G. (2002). "Dioxin characterisation, formation and minimisation during municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration: review." Chemical Engineering Journal 86(3): 343.
- Ulaszewska, M. M., E. Zuccato, et al. (2011). "The effect of waste combustion on the occurrence of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in breast milk in Italy." Chemosphere 82(1): 1-8.