Heavy Metal Study Released

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, April 16, 2004

The Solid Waste Association of North America's (SWANA) Applied Research Foundation has released a very comprehensive, 1-year, copyrighted study which concludes that municipal solid waste landfills (MSW) "can provide for the safe, efficient and long-term management of products containing heavy metals and can effectively control the release of heavy metals to the environment."

Researchers found that the natural processes that occur within a MSW landfill, such as precipitation and absorption, effectively inhibit heavy metals from dissolving into the leachate or being released from the landfill in the form of landfill gas. The study presents extensive data that shows that heavy metal concentrations in leachate and landfill gas are generally far below the limits that have been established to protect human health and the environment. The report was peer-reviewed by a panel of the leading academicians and researchers in this field.

While the study was prompted by a growing concern about the possible adverse effects heavy metal products could have if they were disposed in municipal solid waste landfills, it brings into question the need for recent and pending legislation to keep materials containing heavy metals out of landfills.
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