Gaseous organic emissions from various types of household waste
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National Institute of Occupational Health, Copenhagen, Denmark
Ann Agric Environ Med. 1997;4(1):87–89
Plans to recycle most of the household waste in Denmark resulted in the introduction of sorting into different fractions. Thus household waste was divided into glass, paper and cardboard, biodegradable waste (mainly from the kitchen), and miscellaneous waste (mainly packaging materials). Since it had been reported that spoiled food generated high concentrations of organic volatiles and it was anticipated that microbial growth might be faster in the biodegradable fraction compared to mixed waste, samples of emissions of these two waste types were analyzed using standard air pollution methods. Samples of garden waste emission were also analyzed because of complaints from collection personnel. Several hundred compounds were indentified and quantified with gas chromatography/ mass spectroscopy (GC/MS). Most of these occurred at concentrations much lower than their TLVs (threshold limit values). The toxic organosulfur derivatives dimethyl sulfide and dimethyl disulfide could be accumulated in relatively airtight containers at concentrations greater than their TLVs and thus could be a contributing factor in the complaints from collection personnel of nausea and airway irritation