Analysis of PCBs in emission samples: non ortho, mono-ortho and homolog totals by level of chlorination

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Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are one of the most widespread persistent organic pollutants, identified in every component of the global ecosystem. A production of approximately 2 * 10 9 Kg technical PCB occurred form 1930 to the late 1970 1 and the total amount released into the environment is estimated in 370. 000 2 tonnes. Twelve of the possible 209 PCBs are non- and mono-ortho substituted chlorinated biphenyls. They resemble 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro dibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) in their biological action, bio accumulating through the food chain and causing immuno-,
reproductive and dermal toxicities. Therefore in 1997 the Word Health Organisation (WHO) extended the concept of toxic equivalency (TEQs) 3 also to these group of “dioxinlike” PCBs.

At the moment a fraction of the produced PCBs is collected with the household waste and burned in incinerators. PCBs are evaporated during waste incineration and are partially destroyed during the incineration process, dependent on residence time/temperature. Catalytic dioxin destruction shall additionally reduce the emissions of PCBs. Anyway all PCBs left in the flue gas are emitted in the environment. Some publications present this as an additional source of PCBs 2,4,5,6.  This work aims to investigate the congeners and homologous group distribution of PCBs in emission samples of municipal solid waste incinerators and to calculate the WHO-TEQPCB in relation to the WHO-TEQPCDD/F.

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