The black water …

Few days ago, I saw an article on the news about leackage of waste water from the landfill “Drisla” into river Markova Reka. The head of public enterprise “Drisla”, had a statement in which among other things, he said, “It looks frightful in principle, I think, when you see a black water, but it is black because passes through the waste. It certainly contains dangerous substances, definitely, as each sewer pipe contains, to say, certain concentrations are higher.” The full statement and article about can be found at the following link.

Because I don’t want to remain indifferent to what happens to the environment I would like to point out what is actually found in that landfill leachate and why it not only looks frightful, but it is really frightful for the environment and human health.

The major potential environmental impacts related to landfill leachate are pollution of groundwater and surface waters. In a landfill that receives a mixture of municipal, commercial, and mixed industrial waste, but excludes significant amounts of concentrated specific chemical waste, landfill leachate may be characterized as a water-based solution of four groups of contaminants:

  • Dissolved organic matter – alcohols, acids, aldehydes, short chain sugars etc..
  • Inorganic macrocomponents – calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, ammonium, iron, manganese, aluminium, chloride, sulfate and hydrogen carbonate.
  • Heavy metals: cadmium, chromium, mercury, copper, lead, nickel and zinc.
  • Xenobiotic organic compounds (XOCs) such as halogenated organics (PCBs, dioxins) originating from household or industrial chemicals. These compounds include among others a variety of aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, chlorinated aliphatics, pesticides, and plastizers.

Other compounds may be found in leachate from landfills: for example, borate, sulfide, arsenate, selenate, barium, lithium and cobalt.

The tables below show the possible health effects of some chemicals that can be found in household waste and which are dumped into the landfill and if not properly controlled could leak out as leachate.

Table 1: Health effects caused by acute exposure

Chemical

Source

Health effects from acute exposure

Toluene/xylene

Glues and paints

Euphoria, excitement, tremor, CNS depression, convulsions, coma

Phenols and cresols

Paint

Burning pain in mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, pallor, sweating, shock, coma,

Benzene

Solvent, starting material in chemical manufacture

Single exposure unlikely to cause problem

Nickel

Manufacture of batteries, colouring ceramics and glass

Skin – irritation and dermatitis

Ingestion – stomatitis, gingivitis and possible diarrhoea

Cadmium compounds

Paint and batteries

Inhalation- delayed features 12-36 hrs, hypersalivation, metallic taste, cough, dysponea, chest pain.  Pneumonitis and pulmonary oedema develop within 1-4 days

Ingestion – small amounts ingested GI irritation, nausea and diarrhoea within 15-30 mins. Larger amounts affect calcium and zinc metabolism, cause facial and pulmonary oedema.

Skin – irritation

Lead

Lead paint (apply to older landfill sites), pottery, cosmetics and some ethnic remedies

Severe abdominal pain, diarrhoea with black stools, vomiting, hypotension, cramps, headache, confusion, drowsiness, coma and seizures secondary to cerebral oedema.

Mercury

Lamps, thermometers

Bloody diarrhoea, intestinal mucosal necrosis, dehydration, circulatory collapse, proteinuria and renal failure

 

Table 2: Health effects from chronic exposure to chemicals

Chemical Health effects from chronic exposure
Toluene/xylene Ventricular arrhythmias, hepatic and renal necrosis
Phenols and cresols Renal failure
Benzene Haematological abnormalities
Nickel  
Cadmium compounds Fumes – anaemia, kidney damage, possible prostate and lung cancer.
Lead Anorexia, abdominal pain and constipation. Toxic megacolon, headaches, fatigue, depression, dropped wrist, proximal renal tubular dysfunction, chronic nephropathy and hypertension.
Mercury CNS – irritability, tremour, memory loss, seizures, coma

Respiratory – necrotising bronchitis, pulmonary oedema, ARDS, pulmonary haemorrhage.

GI – metallic taste, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomatatis, blue-line along gum margin

Renal – proteuria, haematuria and acute renal failure

Eyes – grey or brown lens discolouration, band shaped corneal opacities

Haematological – thrombocytopenia, anaemia secondary to GI bleed.

 

Please note that the information presented in this post are not directly related to the composition of the leachate from the landfill Drisla, but gives general information about the most common pollution from landfills. It aim is to draw attention for taking measures to protect the environment, in order to protect our health. At the same time once again I’m emphasizing the need of proper and responsible waste management.

It remains to believe that the collector which will purify leachate from Drisla will be ready in two months and to hope that will never see this picture of black water again.

 

* Tables are taken from the following link.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Here in Brazil we have no good blogs about this theme. It is a pity as this theme has a enormous searchs here.

    Reply

    • Posted by Biljana Dukovska on October 28, 2011 at 10:07

      It is good if you can encourage some NGO to raise awareness about this theme, or some writing club to dedicate some of it works … These theme is very importatnt for all of us …

      Reply

  2. hi it is very sad to see this sort of thing still happening especially the part that waste car batteries have a part to play in the pollution eric http://www.batteriesontheweb.co.uk

    Reply

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