Author(s): Weber R, Watson A, Forter M, Oliaei F
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Abstract The landfilling and dumping of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other persistent hazardous compounds, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorocyclohaxane (HCH), polybrominated diphenylether (PBDEs) or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) can have significant adverse environmental consequences. This paper reviews past experiences with such disposal practices and highlights their unsustainability due to the risks of contamination of ecosystems, the food chain, together with ground and drinking water supplies. The use and associated disposal of POPs have been occurring for over 50 years. Concurrent with the phase-out of some of the most hazardous chemicals, the production of new POPs, such as brominated and fluorinated compounds has increased since the 1990s. These latter compounds are commonly used in a wide range of consumer goods, and as consumer products reach the end of their useful lives, ultimately enter waste recycling and disposal systems, in particular at municipal landfills. Because of their very slow, or lack of degradability, POPs will persist in landfills for many decades and possibly centuries. Over these extended time periods engineered landfill systems and their liners are likely to degrade, thus posing a contemporary and future risk of releasing large contaminant loads to the environment. This review highlights the necessity for alternative disposal methods for POP wastes, including destruction or complete removal from potential environmental release. In addition to such end of pipe solutions a policy change in the use pattern of persistent toxic chemicals is inevitable. In addition, inventories for the location and quantity of POPs in landfills, together with an assessment of their threat to ecosystems, drinking water and food resources are identified as key measures to facilitate appropriate management of risks. Finally the challenges of POP wastes in transition/developing countries, the risk of increased leaching of POPs from landfills due to climate change, and the possible negative impact of natural attenuation processes are considered.
This article was published in Waste Manag Res
and referenced in International Journal of Waste Resources