Metal Contaminants in Leachate from Sanitary Landfills

Taulis, Mauricio (2005) Metal Contaminants in Leachate from Sanitary Landfills. In Moore, Tim, Black, Amanda, Centeno, Jose, Harding, Jon, & Trumm, Dave (Eds.) Metal Contaminants in New Zealand:Sources, Treatments, and Effects on Ecology and Human Health. Resolutionz Press, New Zealand, pp. 119-138.

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The uncontrolled disposal of solid wastes poses an immediate threat to public health and a long term threat to the environmental well being of future generations. Solid waste is waste resulting from human activities that is solid and unwanted (Peavy et al., 1985). If unmanaged, dumped solid wastes generate liquid and gaseous emissions that are detrimental to the environment. This can lead to a serious form of contamination known as metal contamination, which poses a risk to human health and ecosystems. For example, some heavy metals (cadmium, chromium compounds, and nickel tetracarbonyl) are known to be highly toxic, and are aggressive at elevated concentrations. Iron, copper, and manganese can cause staining, and aluminium causes depositions and discolorations. In addition, calcium and magnesium cause hardness in water causing scale deposition and scum formation. Though not a metal but a metalloid, arsenic is poisonous at relatively high concentrations and when diluted at low concentrations causes skin cancer. Normally, metal contaminants are found in a dissolved form in the liquid percolating through landfills. Because average metal concentrations from full-scale landfills, test cells, and laboratory studies have tended to be generally low, metal contamination originating from landfills is not generally considered a major concern (Kjeldsen et al., 2002; Christensen et al., 1999). However, a number of factors make it necessary to take a closer look at metal contaminants from landfills. One of these factors relates to variability. Landfill leachate can have different qualities depending on the weather and operating conditions. Therefore, at one moment in time, metal contaminant concentrations may be quite low, but at a later time these concentrations could be quite high. Also, these conditions relate to the amount of leachate that is being generated. Another factor is biodiversity. It cannot be assumed that a particular metal contaminant is harmless to flora and fauna (including micro organisms) just because it is harmless to human health. This has significant implications for ecosystems and the environment. Finally, there is the moral factor. Because uncertainty surrounds the potential effects of metal contamination, it is appropriate to take precautions to prevent it from taking place. Consequently, it is necessary to have good scientific knowledge (empirically supported) to adequately understand the extent of the problem and improve the way waste is being disposed of

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ID Code: 38138
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: organic waste in landfills, leachate generation, landfill sites in New Zealand
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL GEOSCIENCE (040600)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Deposited On: 22 Oct 2010 04:45
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2011 13:22

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