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U.S. EPA Report:
The Incineration of Liquid Hazardous Wastes


April, 1985
Environmental Effects, Transport and Fate Committee, Science Advisory Board

The report leads to the conclusion that no one can make any claims regarding public health and safety in relation to the operation of a hazardous waste incinerator because no one knows the full range of toxic substances emitted from the stack.


"To monitor whether or not liquid hazardous wastes were destroyed in the incineration process, the Agency adopted the concept of destruction efficiency. This approach emphasizes the elimination of several preselected compounds in the waste and does not fully address either partial oxidation or chemical recombinations, either of which may create new toxic compounds in the incineration process. To date only a very small portion of the compounds found in emissions from incinerators has been identified qualitively or quantitively. As a consequence, the Committee finds the concept of destruction efficiency used by the Agency to be incomplete and not useful for subsequent exposure assessments."

"The toxicities of emissions and effluents from land based and ocean based incinerators are largely unknown."

"Detection of subtle effects (of incinerator emissions) can have significant consequences to individuals and populations. Effects on behavior and on physiological functions often occur at exposures that are significantly lower than those producing acute observable effects."

". . . fugitive emissions and accidental spills (at incinerators) may release as much or more toxic material to the environment than the direct emissions from incomplete waste incineration." "The Committee found that the Agency's (EPA's) evaluations of the transport and fate of emissions, while appropriately emphasizing the significance of the dilution of pollutants, have not sufficiently addressed mechanisms in the environment (rain, temperature inversions, etc.) which would result in the concentration of emission products."

"EPA should evaluate the degree to which local meteorological conditions can maximize atmospheric dilution to avoid excessive ambient concentrations of incinerator emissions."