"The results indicate that burial in a landfill will not result in a massive release of toxic chemicals," says Morton A. Barlaz, Ph.D., the study's corresponding author. "Our work can now be used by scientists who specialize in health effects to confirm that landfill disposal is acceptable. All indications are this is the case."
The new study, supported by the Environmental Protection Agency, will need to be verified by laboratory research, Barlaz cautions. But, he adds, the finding is an important first step toward clarifying whether these potentially lethal compounds, including sarin, mustard gas and VX, could be safely contained in a municipal landfill.
Concerns about contaminated building debris arose following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as well as the later discovery of anthrax in a U.S. Senate office building, postal facilities in Washington, D.C., and Trenton, N.J., and several buildings owned by media corporations.
For this study, a team of landfill experts used a computer model that combined what is known about organic material in the nation's 2,000 lined solid waste landfills with information available about the behavior of chemical warfare agents to predict how these highly toxic compounds would behave under typical landfill conditions. The researchers included several k
Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society