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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Emission characteristics and air-surface exchange of gaseous mercury at the largest active landfill in Asia

Zhu, Wei; Li, Zhonggen; Chai, Xiaoli; Hao, Yongxia; Lin, Che-Jen; Sommar, Jonas; Feng, Xinbin


The emission characteristics and air-surface exchange of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) at Laogang landfill in Shanghai, China, the largest active landfill in Asia, has been investigated during two intensive field campaigns in 2011 and 2012. The mercury (Hg) content in municipal solid waste (MSW) varied widely from 0.19 to 1.68 mg kg(-1). Over the closed cell in the landfill, the mean ambient air GEM concentration was virtually indistinguishable from the hemispherical background level (1.5-2.0 ng m(-3)) while the concentration downwind of ongoing landfill operation (e.g. dumping, burying and compacting of MSW) was clearly elevated. GEM emission through landfill gas (LEG) was identified as a significant source. GEM concentrations in LFGs collected from venting pipes installed in different landfill cells varied widely from 3.0 to 1127.8 ng m-3. The GEM concentrations were found negatively correlated to the age of LFG cells, suggesting GEM released through LFG declined readily with time. The GEM emission from this source alone was estimated to be 1.23-1.73 mg h(-1). GEM emission from cover soil surfaces was considerably lower and at a scale comparable to that of background soil surfaces. This is in contrast to earlier reports showing enhanced GEM emissions from landfill surfaces in Southern China, probably due to the difference in soil Hg content and gas permeability characteristics of soils at different sites. Vertical concentration profiles of GEM in the interstitial gas of buried MSW were sampled, perhaps for the first time, which exhibited a wide spatial variability (4.9-713.1 ng m(-3)) in the 3-year-old landfill cell investigated. GEM emission from landfill operation was estimated to be 290-525 mg h(-1) using a box model. This suggests that GEM degassing from Laogang landfill is quantitatively largely dominated by emissions from daily landfilling operations with a much smaller contribution from LEG venting and insignificant (bi-directional fluxes near zero) contribution from surfaces capped with a soil layer. This study reveals divergent GEM emission patterns among landfill cells of different ages, and provides essential emission estimates for formulating Hg emission reduction strategies for a large landfill. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Landfill; GEM flux; Landfill gas; Interstitial gas GEM; Shanghai

Published in

Atmospheric Environment
2013, Volume: 79, pages: 188-197 Publisher: PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences
    Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

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