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Brominated flame retardant emissions from the open burning of five plastic wastes and implications for environmental exposure in China

Ni, Hong-Gang, Lu, Shao-You, Mo, Ting, Zeng, Hui
Environmental pollution 2016 v.214 pp. 70-76
air, air pollution, burning, cities, combustion, emissions, emissions factor, environmental exposure, hexabromocyclododecane, incinerators, municipal solid waste, plastics, pollution control, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, China
Based on the most widely used plastics in China, five plastic wastes were selected for investigation of brominated flame retardant (BFR) emission behaviors during open burning. Considerable variations were observed in the emission factors (EF) of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs) from the combustion of different plastic wastes. Distribution of BFR output mass showed that ΣPBDE was emitted mainly by the airborne particle (51%), followed by residual ash (44%) and the gas phase (5.1%); these values for ΣHBCD were 62%, 24%, and 14%, respectively. A lack of mass balance after the burning of the plastic wastes for some congeners (output/input mass ratios>1) suggested that formation and survival exceeded PBDE decomposition during the burns. However, that was not the case for HBCD. A comparison with literature data showed that the open burning of plastic waste is major source of PBDE compared to regulated combustion activities. Even for state-of-the-art waste incinerators equipped with sophisticated complex air pollution control technologies, BFRs are released on a small scale to the environment. According to our estimate, ΣPBDE release to the air and land from municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration plants in China in 2015 were 105 kg/year and 7124 kg/year. These data for ΣHBCD were 25.5 and 71.7 kg/year, respectively. Considering the fact that a growing number of cities in China are switching to incineration as the preferred method for MSW treatment, our estimate is especially important. This study provides the first data on the environmental exposure of BFRs emitted from MSW incineration in China.