JOURNAL ARTICLE

Fate of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals in landfills

Shannon L Bartelt-Hunt, Morton A Barlaz, Detlef R U Knappe, Peter Kjeldsen
Environmental Science & Technology 2006 July 1, 40 (13): 4219-25
16856738
One component of preparedness for a chemical attack is planning for the disposal of contaminated debris. To assess the feasibility of contaminated debris disposal in municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills, the fate of selected chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and toxic industrial chemicals (TICs) in MSW landfills was predicted with a mathematical model. Five blister agents [sulfur mustard (HD), nitrogen mustard (HN-2), lewisite (L), ethyldichloroarsine (ED), and phosgene oxime (CX)], eight nerve agents [tabun (GA), sarin (GB), soman (GD), GE, GF, VX, VG, and VM], one riot-control agent [CS], and two TICs [furan and carbon disulfide] were studied. The effects of both infiltration (climate) and contaminant biodegradability on fate predictions were assessed. Model results showed that hydrolysis and gas-phase advection were the principal fate pathways for CWAs and TICs, respectively. Apart from CX and the TICs, none of the investigated compounds was predicted to persist in a landfill for more than 5 years. Climate had little impact on CWA/TIC fate, and biodegradability was only important for compounds with long hydrolysis half-lives. Monte Carlo simulations were performed to assess the influence of uncertainty in model input parameters on CWA/TIC fate predictions. Correlation analyses showed that uncertainty in hydrolysis rate constants was the primary contributor to variance of CWA fate predictions, while uncertainty in the Henry's Law constant and landfill gas-production rate accounted for most of the variance of TIC fate predictions. CWA hydrolysates were more persistent than the parent CWAs, but limited information is available on abiotic or biotic transformation rates for these chemicals.

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