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[greenyes] Mercury emissions from landfills
As we work to reduce the environmental impacts of managing materials, one
material which has a high impact is mercury. Most -- if not all -- states
have a fish consumption advisory due to the presence of mercury in fish; in
my own state, the problem is so pervasive that it covers all lakes and
streams. Mercury is highly toxic to the central nervous system and the
kidneys and it is estimated that up to 10% of all children born in this
country are at risking of having impaired neurological development due to
mercury.

While coal burning utilities are often the focus of efforts to reduce
mercury emissions, the use of mercury in products annually far exceeds the
release of mercury from coal burning utilities, and the reduction of these
releases from products is gaining more attention. 

The following link is to a paper that summarizes the emissions of mercury
from landfills prepared by the Northeast Waste Management Officials'
Association:

 
http://www.newmoa.org/NEWMOA/htdocs/prevention/mercury/landfillfactsheet.cfm

Some of the conclusions include:

		- mercury emissions have been found at landfills at both the
working face and in gas extraction systems

		- fluorescent lamps are a major source of mercury from the
working faces of landfills

		- landfills convert part of the mercury in products from the
metallic form to the more toxic methyl form and the highly toxic dimethyl
form and are a major source of these emissions

		- in unlined landfills, mercury can leach into the
groundwater

		-  mercury from landfills can re-enter the environment when
the leachate is treated either on-site or at wastewater treatment plants

		- mercury in solid waste is also released from waste storage
containers and waste collection, transfer and transportation


John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, Wisconsin 






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