Inventory of U.S. 2012 dioxin emissions to atmosphere

By Henri Dwyer, Nickolas J. Themelis
Earth Engineering Center, Columbia University in the City of New York, United States

In 2006, the U.S. EPA published an inventory of dioxin emissions for the U.S. covering the period from 1987–2000. This paper is an updated inventory of all U.S. dioxin emissions to the atmosphere in the year 2012. The sources of emissions of polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), collectively referred to in this paper as “dioxins”, were separated into two classes: controlled industrial and open burning sources. Controlled source emissions decreased 95.5% from 14.0 kg TEQ in 1987 to 0.6 kg in 2012. Open burning source emissions increased from 2.3 kg TEQ in 1987 to 2.9 kg in 2012. The 2012 dioxin emissions from 53 U.S. waste-to-energy (WTE) power plants were compiled on the basis of detailed data obtained from the two major U.S. WTE companies, representing 84% of the total MSW combusted (27.4 million metric tons). The dioxin emissions of all U.S. WTE plants in 2012 were 3.4 g TEQ and represented 0.54% of the controlled industrial dioxin emissions, and 0.09% of all dioxin emissions from controlled and open burning sources.

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