Research Article: Phthalate release in leachate from municipal landfills of central Poland

Date Published: March 30, 2017

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Paweł Wowkonowicz, Marta Kijeńska, Yiu Fai Tsang.


Phthalate diesters (PAEs) are used as plasticizer additives to polymer chains to make the material more flexible and malleable. PAEs are bonded physically, not chemically, to the polymeric matrix and can migrate to and leach from the product surface, posing a serious danger to the environment and human health. There have been a number of studies on PAE concentrations in landfill leachate conducted in the EU and around the world, though few in Poland. In the present study, the leachate of five municipal landfills was analyzed for the presence of PAEs. Raw leachate was sampled four times over the period of one year in 2015/16. It was the first large study on this subject in Poland. PAEs were detected in the leachate samples on all of the landfills, thereby indicating that PAEs are ubiquitous environmental contaminants. The following PAEs were detected in at least one sample: Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Diethyl phthalate (DEP), Dimethyl phthalate (DMP), Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), Di-isobutylphthalate (DIBP). Out of all ten PAEs, DEHP was the most predominant, with concentrations up to 73.9 μg/L. DEHP was present in 65% of analyzed samples (in 100% of samples in spring, 80% in winter, and 40% in summer and autumn). In only 25% of all samples DEHP was below the acceptable UE limit for surface water (1.3 μg/L), while 75% was from 1.7 to 56 times higher than that value. On the two largest landfills DEHP concentrations were observed during samples from all four seasons, including on a landfill which has been remediated and closed for the last 5 years.

Partial Text

Phthalic acid diesters (PAEs) are used as plasticizers added to polymer chains to make the material more flexible and malleable. PAE production started in 1920 and intensified after 1950 with the increasing usage of polyvinyl chloride (PCV) [1], which was first synthesized in 1931 [2].

MSW landfills’ leachates are directed and treated in municipal Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) in Poland. In all the tested landfills the leachates were collected in raw leachate tanks (three roofed, and two unroofed) and then transported to STPs by trucks. Leachates are handled and processed the same way on all the tested landfills, none being recirculated to landfill blocks.

PAEs were detected in leachate samples from each of five studied landfills. The following PAEs were detected in at least one sample: DEHP, DEP, DMP, DBP, DIBP.




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