What gases are released by landfills?
Landfills consist of a complex mix of gases and VOCs, and are a source of major pollution, and potential revenue… which we will address later in this article. Dangerous gases like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide(CO2), sulfides (SOx), and ammonia, are created by the decomposition and evaporation of organic compounds, as well as chemical reactions between waste components. Methane and carbon dioxide are the most prevalent, making up between 90 and 98% of all gases and VOCs released.
Why are these chemicals a concern?
These gases and VOCs are considered greenhouse gases, and play a huge role in global warming. According to the EPA, in the United States, landfills are the third most prevalent source of methane, and other greenhouse gases. Another risk when dealing with methane is the flammability of the gas, which is incredibly high. When condensed into a small space, methane is considered an explosive, and should be handled with extreme caution. Landfill gas explosions are not uncommon.
In addition to pollution and the risk of exploding, these VOCs pose a serious risk to human health. They have been linked to eye, throat and lung irritation, nausea, headache, nasal blockage, sleeping difficulties, weight loss, chest pain, and even asthma. Some recent studies indicate a connection between air pollution, and Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and slow fetal development. [Read more…]