TABLE 4-14 Metals in Soil Near the 3M Incinerator


Background Range (ppm)

Facility Range (ppm)


(not given)

< 10-13



< 0.07-1.0





< 5-700





Source: Adapted from Fruin et al. 1994.

and vegetation) in a community that contains two cement kilns that use hazardous waste as fuel as well as a cement kiln and secondary steel mill that use conventional fuel. Over 940 ambient-air samples were analyzed for suspended particles, 188 for respirable metals, and 135 for volatile organic compounds, and 175 soil samples were analyzed for various potential pollutants. Other analyses were also conducted of acidic gases and chemicals on vegetation. As an example of their results, the dioxin and furan concentrations in soils potentially affected by the facilities ranged from 0.3 to 17.9 ppt (TEQ) with a median of 1.4 ppt (TEQ). This may be compared to the range for unaffected background of 0.8-3.2 ppt (TEQ) with a median of 1.8 ppt (TEQ).

Lorber et al. (1998) examined PCDD/PCDFs in ash from, and soil and air around the Columbus, Ohio, municipal waste-to-energy facility. This facility was estimated to emit as much as 1,000 g of TEQ per year for its approximate 11 years of operation (compared with a 1994 estimate of total emissions of 9,300 g of TEQ per year from all sources in the United States). The effect of the incinerator was detected in air and soil samples. Two air samples known to be downwind of the operating facility had TEQ concentrations approximately 5-fold higher than background. Approximately 2% of the total emitted dioxins were estimated to be present in the soil within about 3 km of the incinerator. However, the authors concluded that despite the magnitude of the emissions, soil and air concentrations in the urban area of Columbus did not exceed urban air and soil concentrations of dioxins found around the world.

Limitations of the studies cited above include reflection of a nonrandom set of facilities; inconsistency of methods, and problems with sampling and analytical techniques, detection limits, number and location of samples, duration of studies, contaminant contribution from other emission sources, and quality assurance and quality control. Therefore, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about waste incineration in general. However, taken as a whole, the weight of the evidence contained in those studies suggests the following. First, in principle, measurement of contributions of substances within various environmental media is a feasible method for assessing environmental emissions from incinerators. Second, the results are consistent with the hypothesis that emissions of

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