Author(s): AlvimFerraz MC, Afonso SA, AlvimFerraz MC, Afonso SA
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Abstract The amount of atmospheric pollutants emitted through the incineration of healthcare wastes can be estimated using emission factors. Emission factors have been published without including sufficient information about the types of wastes incinerated. This paper reports the first emission factors estimated for the incineration of wastes segregated into different types according to the Portuguese legislation. One controlled-air incinerator without air pollution control devices was used in the research. The main objectives of the study were: (i) to estimate the emission factors for particulate matter, dioxins, heavy metals and gaseous pollutants, according to the type of waste incinerated; (ii) to evaluate the quality of atmospheric emissions; and (iii) to define a methodology for the management of atmospheric emissions, evaluating the influence of type of waste incinerated and of the segregation method used on the emitted amounts. It was concluded that: (i) when emission factors are not associated with the type of incinerated mixture, the utility of the emission factors is highly doubtful; (ii) without appropriate equipment to control atmospheric pollution, incineration emissions exceed legal limits, neglecting the protection of human health (the legal limit for pollutant concentrations could only be met for NO(x), all other concentrations were higher than the maximum allowed: dioxins, 93-710 times; Hg, 1.3-226 times; CO, 11-24 times; SO(2), 2-5 times; and HCl, 9-200 times); (iii) rigorous segregation methodologies must be used to minimize atmospheric emissions, and incinerate only those wastes that should be incinerated according to the law. A rigorous segregation program can result in a reduction of the amount of waste that should be incinerated by 80\%. A reduction in the quantity of waste incinerated results in a reduction on the amounts of pollutants emitted: particulate matter, 98\%; dioxins, 99.5\%; As, Cd, Cr, Mn and Ni, respectively, 90\%, 92\%, 84\%, 77\% and 92\%; Hg and Pb, practically eliminated; SO(2) and NO(x), 93\%; and CO and HCl, more than 99\%.
This article was published in Waste Manag
and referenced in Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology