In partnership with Imperial College London
In partnership with Imperial College London

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.

> Key Fact

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.

> Link to peer-reviewed journals section

(Ulaszewska et al., 2011, citing: Schuhmacher et al. 2002; 2004; 2007;2009; Reis et al. 2007)

> The Impact on Health of Emissions to Air From Municipal Waste Incinerators

> Key Fact

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.

> FAQ 8

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.