Environmental Effects Of Landfill

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Environmental Effects Of Landfill:

Environmental Effects Of Landfill V .Manikandan BTE-08-027 "Disposing of waste in landfills is not a solution. It is the most unsustainable way of waste treatment..." (German Green Party- 2007) Land filling – Worst Choice for the Environment

Landfill Environmental Effects :

Landfill Environmental Effects Landfilling of solid wastes - last option for disposition of solid wastes. Landfilling can have several negative impacts upon the surrounding environment both during construction and after the landfill has been closed. A landfill will affect the surrounding environment during a long time period . The effects depend upon the conditions at the landfill, i.e., the waste composition and quantity, the quality of environmental protection activities, operation strategy, geographical location, hydrological conditions at the location and time.


Cont.. The most important environmental effects on soil, water and air caused by landfilling together with the typical distances over which the effects are significant . The emissions and the environmental effects caused by them have very different temporal duration. Effects such as noise, dust and animals are linked to the presence of exposed waste materials and these effects are therefore only present during the deposition phase. Effects such as global warming and fire hazard on the other hand can be present during all three phases. 1) The deposition phase, 2) The active phase, 3) the passive phase

Environmental Effects :

Environmental Effects 1)Air environment Global warming. Ozone depletion Toxic gases Odor Noise 2)Soil environment Birds,rodents,insects Fly water , dust Explosion and fire hazard Vegetation damage Soil pollution 3)Water environment Surface water Ground water 4)Temporal duration The deposition phase The active phase The passive phase 5)Health Effects

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AIR SOIL WATER 0.1km 1km 10km 100km - Air environment - Soil environment - Water environment Global warming Ozone depletion Toxic gases Odor Landfill border Noise Birds,rodents,insects Fly water, dust Explosion and fire hazard Vegetation damage Soil pollution Surface water pollution Ground water pollution Potential environmental effects on soil, water and air as a function of distance from a landfill

Atmospheric Environment -Global warming :

Atmospheric Environment -Global warming Organic wastes deposited in landfills will typically decompose biologically under anaerobic conditions producing methane gas. Methane will escape to the atmosphere and add to global warming because it is more powerful greenhouse gas. Methane from landfills accounts for approximately 1-2% of global greenhouse gas emissions ( Thorneloe 1996). Methane produced at landfills can be collected via gas extraction systems and used for energy production. This will reduce global warming potential, as the CO2 produced from combustion of methane is neutral with respect to global warming.

Ozone depletion:

Ozone depletion Chlorine and fluorine containing gases released to the atmosphere are potentially harmful to the ozone layer. These gases are degraded photo chemically in the upper atmosphere producing free chlorine and fluorine that reacts with ozone and thereby deplete the ozone concentrations that protects the earths surface from the ultra violet rays of the sun. In connection with landfills the gases are primarily released from disposed refrigerators, freezers and other types pf cooling equipment, solvents and insulation materials. Many of the gases can potentially be degraded under the anaerobic conditions existing in landfills but since the gases are very volatile significant quantities significant quantities will escape to the atmosphere. Controlled collection and combustion of the landfill gas can reduce emissions of the ozone depleting gases .

Toxic gases:

Toxic gases Landfill gas contains significant concentrations of compounds that are potentially toxic to humans. These gases include mainly CO2 and H2S. Toxic gases are also present in trace amounts in the landfill gas. Here benzene and vinyl chloride, dioxins and furans are important due to their carcinogenic and toxic properties . Dioxins and furans are normally produced via uncontrolled combustion of the landfill gas. Vinyl chloride is a degradation product from trichloroethylene, a solvent that can be degraded under anaerobic conditions. Vinyl chloride itself is not very degradable under anaerobic conditions and therefore has the potential to reach the atmosphere . Controlled collection and combustion of landfill gas will reduce the emissions of toxic gases to the environment .


Odor Problems with odorous and foul smelling compounds are typically significant only near the landfill . Important odorous compounds are H2S and organic sulfur compounds ( mercaptans etc.). Odor problems are most significant during deposition of the wastes at the landfill.Odor can be a significant nuisance in areas near a landfill. Odor problems can be reduced by minimizing the amount of easily degradable material in the landfill, by keeping a small open waste front at the landfill, by operating as far away from inhabited areas during the summer as possible and by placing landfills under consideration of prevailing wind directions .


Noise Noise is one of the most significant nuisances near the landfill and is created by the traffic of waste trucks to and from the landfill. In special cases can birds especially seagulls create their own noise problem. Constructing noise barriers around the landfill area such as earthen walls and dense plantations can reduce noise. Noise reduction can also be achieved by using equipment that creates less noise and restricting operation hours especially during seasons when resident uses outdoors facilities.

Soil pollution :

Soil pollution Movement and deposition of contaminated dust (for instance from contaminated soil or ash) can pollute the soil near the landfill. Pollution can also spread by surface water runoff from the landfill. Soil pollution is best prevented by careful encapsulation of the waste and by irrigation of dry dusty wastes. Also surface water must be managed in a controlled manner to prevent erosion of the landfill surface .

Fly waste and dust. :

Fly waste and dust. Dust and fly waste (waste transported by the wind) can often be a nuisance near landfill sites. Dust is especially a problem at sites where ash and soil is deposited. Dust and fly waste can be reduced by using only a small open waste front, by watering dry wastes, by covering the wastes carefully and by regular cleaning of the landfill area.

Fire and explosion hazard. :

Fire and explosion hazard. Landfill gas can potentially cause fire and explosions, as the gas is highly combustible. The gas is explosive if between 5 and 15% methane is mixed with atmospheric air. This range is not very dependent upon the presence of other components in the gas ( Gendebien et al. 1992). Landfill gas is normally not a problem with respect to explosion hazard if the gas is emitted directly to the atmosphere. It is however not uncommon that the gas can ignite and burn steadily at the location of emission.If the gas seeps into closed spaces such as basements in houses or sewers there is a potential explosion hazard . The fire and explosion hazard can be reduced by collection of the landfill gas, by minimizing the amount of biodegradable waste deposited and by installation of gas alarms in buildings near the landfill .

Vegetation damage:

Vegetation damage Vegetation damage is often seen at or near landfills without gas collection as the landfill gas can migrate through the soil up to 100 m away from the landfill. Migration is most significant at older landfills without membrane systems. Gas migration also depends upon the surrounding soil type; sandy soils facilitate faster gas movement. Lenses or layers of low permeability materials in the soil can also cause farther gas movement away from the landfill edge. Variations in precipitation and atmospheric pressure also affect gas movement.

Water pollution:

Water pollution If the drainage system for percolate and surface water collection at the landfill site is overloaded for instance in connection with heavy rain or snow melting there is a chance that the contaminated water can reach nearby streams and lakes and cause severe damage to their ecosystems. Acute effects are oxygen depletion and ammonia toxicity. Effects of long-term contamination are changes in the flora and fauna of the water body and development of permanently oxygen free zones. Surface water pollution

2.) Ground water pollution:

2.) Ground water pollution The ground water contamination potential is perhaps the most significant environmental hazard in connection with landfills. This has prompted the use of membrane systems and percolate collection at modern landfills. the use of membranes and percolate collection systems has been introduced some 20-30 years ago, percolate plumes in the groundwater has generally only been observed at older unprotected landfills. Ground water contamination can be minimized by The use of membranes, Percolate collection, Limitation in the types of waste that are deposited Minimizing the infiltration to the waste via the top layer. Water pollution

Health Effects:

Health Effects Living in proximity to a poorly maintained landfill or hazardous waste site can cause serious health effects, especially in children. Health effects from exposure to hazardous waste can include: Cancer Birth defects Genetic mutations

Temporal duration of environmental effects:

Temporal duration of environmental effects The environmental effects caused by deposition of wastes at landfills have very different temporal duration. The temporal duration can best be discussed based on the state of the landfill. The lifecycle of a landfill can be divided into three major phases. 1) The deposition phase, 2) The active phase, and 3) the passive phase

The deposition phase:

The deposition phase It is the period when the landfill is receiving waste. During this phase also percolate and gas collection systems are being constructed and operation will start up as landfill sections are completed. The landscape is restored and vegetation is planted on the landfill cover. The duration of the phase depends on the capacity of the landfill and can typically vary between 5 and 50 years. For economic reasons it is desirable to have at least 15-25 years of capacity.


Conclusions The Landfill materials has resulted in a reduction in the amount of inactive waste disposed of to landfill. Possible areas of environmental effect have been identified. However, it is difficult to attribute apparent effects, such as the increase in uptake of WML (waste management licensing ).

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"Disposing of waste in landfills is not a solution. It is the most unsustainable way of waste treatment..." (German Green Party- 2007) Land Filling – Worst Choice for the Environment. Today’s landfill practices incorporate state of the art landfill technology – however, when compared to GCS’s Advanced Thermal Recycling (ATR) technology it is completely outdated. THANK YOU V.MANIKANDAN B.Tech( Agricultural Engineering ) College Of Agricultural Engineering, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Kumulur, Tiruchirapalli-621712