Author(s): Rib V, Nehrenheim E, Odlare M
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Incineration of municipal solid waste (MSW) is a waste treatment method which can be sustainable in terms of waste volume reduction as well as a source of renewable energy. In the process fly and bottom ash is generated as a waste material. The ash residue may vary greatly in composition depending on the type of waste incinerated and it can contain elevated levels of harmful contaminants such as heavy metals. In this study, the ecotoxicity of a weathered, untreated incineration bottom ash was characterized as defined by the H14 criterion of the EU Waste Framework Directive by means of an elemental analysis, leaching tests followed by a chemical analysis and a combination of aquatic and solid-phase bioassays. The experiments were conducted to assess the mobility and bioavailability of ash contaminants. A combination of aquatic and terrestrial bioassays was used to determine potentially adverse acute effects of exposure to the solid ash and aqueous ash leachates. The results from the study showed that the bottom ash from a municipal waste incineration plant in mid-Sweden contained levels of metals such as Cu, Pb and Zn, which exceeded the Swedish EPA limit values for inert wastes. The chemical analysis of the ash leachates showed high concentrations of particularly Cr. The leachate concentration of Cr exceeded the limit value for L/S 10 leaching for inert wastes. Filtration of leachates prior to analysis may have underestimated the leachability of complex-forming metals such as Cu and Pb. The germination test of solid ash and ash leachates using T. repens showed a higher inhibition of seedling emergence of seeds exposed to the solid ash than the seeds exposed to ash leachates. This indicated a relatively low mobility of toxicants from the solid ash into the leachates, although some metals exceeded the L/S 10 leaching limit values for inert wastes. The Microtox® toxicity test showed only a very low toxic response to the ash leachate exposure, while the D. magna immobility test showed a moderately high toxic effect of the ash leachates. Overall, the results from this study showed an ecotoxic effect of the solid MSW bottom ash and the corresponding ash leachates. The material may therefore pose an environmental risk if used in construction applications. However, as the testing of the solid ash was rather limited and the ash leachate showed an unusually high leaching of Cr, further assessments are required in order to conclusively characterize the bottom ash studied herein as hazardous according to the H14 criterion. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Waste Manag
and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources