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Burning to a toxic waste.

Burning to a toxic waste

During the past decade, researchers have shown that the incineration of municipal and industrial wastes often produces traces of toxic compounds such as dioxins. Until now, however, no one had a clear idea of how these compounds are formed. A Swedish research team, reporting in the March 13 NATURE, argues that the presence of phenol, often found in household wastes, and hydrochloric acid, sometimes supplied by the fuel, is likely to lead to the formation of toxic substances when wastes are burned.

In a simple, high-temperature experiment, Gran Eklund and his colleagues at Studsvik Energiteknik AB in Nykoping, Sweden, showed that phenol, when heated together with hydrochloric acid in sealed quartz tubes, readily reacts to form a mixture of chlorinated products. This mixture closely resembles the pollutants typically found in flue gases from municipal incinerators.

The researchers also found that the reaction depends very strongly on the hydrochloric acid concentration. They suggest that one way of reducing toxic pollutant emissions would be to inject along with the incinerator fuel a substance that neutralizes acids.
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Title Annotation:incineration of waste produces traces of toxic compounds
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 29, 1986
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