Author(s): Linak WP, Ryan JV, Perry E, Williams RW, DeMarini DM
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Abstract Chemical and biological analyses were performed to characterize products of incomplete combustion emitted during the simulated open field burning of agricultural plastic. A small utility shed equipped with an air delivery system was used to simulate pile burning and forced-air-curtain incineration of a nonhalogenated agricultural plastic that reportedly consisted of polyethylene and carbon black. Emissions were analyzed for combustion gases; volatile, semi-volatile, and particulate organics; and toxic and mutagenic properties. Emission samples, as well as samples of the used (possibly pesticide-contaminated) plastic, were analyzed for the presence of several pesticides to which the plastic may have been exposed. Although a variety of alkanes, alkenes, and aromatic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds were identified in the volatile, semi-volatile, and particulate fractions of these emissions, a substantial fraction of higher molecular weight organic material was not identified. No pesticides were identified in either combustion emission samples or dichloromethane washes of the used plastic. When mutagenicity was evaluated by exposing Salmonella bacteria (Ames assay) to whole vapor and vapor/particulate emissions, no toxic or mutagenic effects were observed. However, organic extracts of the particulate samples were moderately mutagenic. This mutagenicity compares approximately to that measured from residential wood heating on a revertant per unit heat release basis. Compared to pile burning, forced air slightly decreased the time necessary to burn a charge of plastic. There was not a substantial difference, however, in the variety or concentrations of organic compounds identified in samples from these two burn conditions. This study highlights the benefits of a combined chemical/biological approach to the characterization of complex, multi-component combustion emissions. These results may not reflect those of other types of plastic that may be used for agricultural purposes, especially those containing halogens.
This article was published in JAPCA
and referenced in Journal of Physical Chemistry & Biophysics