15 May 2023
 | 15 May 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Characterization of Gas and Particle Emissions from Open Burning of Household Solid Waste

Xiaoliang Wang, Hatef Firouzkouhi, Judith C. Chow, John G. Watson, Warren Carter, and Alexandra S. M. De Vos

Abstract. Open burning of household and municipal solid waste is a common practice in many developing countries. Due to limited resources for collection and proper disposal, solid waste is often disposed of in neighborhoods and open burned in piles to reduce odors and create space for incoming waste. Emissions from these ground-level and low-temperature burns cause air pollution, leading to adverse health effects among community residents. This study conducted laboratory combustion experiments to characterize gas and particle emissions from ten waste categories representative of those burned in South Africa: paper, leather/rubber, textiles, plastic bottles, plastic bags, vegetation (with three different moisture content levels), food discards, and combined materials. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) were measured in real-time to calculate modified combustion efficiencies (MCE). MCE is used along with video observations to determine fuel-based emission factors (EFs) during flaming and smoldering phases as well as the entire combustion process. Fuel elemental composition and moisture content have strong influences on emissions. Plastic bags have the highest carbon content and the highest combustion efficiency, leading to the highest EFs for CO2. Textiles have the highest nitrogen and sulfur contents, resulting in the highest EFs for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Emissions are similar for vegetation with 0 % and 20 % moisture contents; however, EFs for CO and particulate matter (PM) from the vegetation with 50 % moisture content are 3 and 30 times, respectively, emissions from 0 % and 20 % moisture contents. This study also shows that neglecting carbon in the ash and PM can lead to significant overestimation of EFs. Results from this study are applicable to emission inventory improvements as well as air quality management to assess the health and climate effects of household waste open burning.

Xiaoliang Wang et al.

Status: open (until 01 Jul 2023)

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Xiaoliang Wang et al.


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Short summary
Open burning of household and municipal solid waste is a common practice in developing countries and is a significant source of air pollution. However, not many studies have measured emissions from waste open burning. This study determined gas and particulate emissions from open burning of ten types of household solid waste materials. These results can improve emission inventory, air quality management, and assessment of the health and climate effects of household waste open burning.