Harmful substances released by burning plastics?

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  • Thread starter HotFurnace
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In summary: People burning their plastic domestic waste do not realize harmful effects this practice can cause to their health as well as to the environment.
  • #1
HotFurnace
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Hi,

I live in a rural area in Vietnam, where people plant rose and transport them to large cities to sell. Only some of the rose (around 50% to 70%) meet the quality control and get their way to the city, while the remaining become waste and are disposed. People don't know how to dispose these, so most of them decided to burn the rose. The rose are first left for a few day to dry, and then burned.

Beside roses, plastics are also burned. Why plastic? People plant roses in greenhouses, which are made of plastic. I'm not sure what kind of plastic they are, but heard that they are made of polyethylene. Every few years, greenhouses roof and wall need to be replaced, due to too many reasons: They got torn apart by wind and rain, they are no longer transparent, the construction supporting them are degrading and needs to be replaced, etc...

So do you know where these plastic go? They are burned right away at the garden, or collected and burned along with roses in open atmosphere. There is no incinerator in the area, so the temperature achieved is low, around 300C-500C in the core of the trash pile, depending on the composition of what was burned.

Now let's move on to the question: What substances are released by burning those material at the condition given above? How toxic are they? And how to filter the air containing those substances? Because of the low burning temperature, and no one build chimneys, so convection drives the toxic products to surface wind and then they travel a kilometer or two to neighborhoods in the area, and then after a few more kilometers, they finally reaches pine forests.

Each time people burns, I have to flee to friend' homes, sometime as far as 8km away from mine. And that is impossible during night, but the smoke drives me crazy. My parents have no idea how to solve the problem, neither do I. But at very least identifying most dangerous substances and try finding a way to filter them may be the first to try.
 
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  • #3
Yes, environment laws don't works here, greenhouses just keep occupying more and more space, and the problem become more and more severe.

I will install air filter, but they can't probably filter light organic compounds, such as acetaldehyde. I have done some research on the topic, and found that PE combustion will release small organic mocules, like acetaldehyde and acetone. What if I let the filtered air bubbles through a water reservoir? Do this actually works to filter such compounds? I see most harmful small organic and inorganic compounds will be absorbed into the water, as they are all soluble in water.
 
  • #4
HotFurnace said:
What if I let the filtered air bubbles through a water reservoir? Do this actually works to filter such compounds?
The water will certainly absorb a pretty wide variety of volatile organics. You’ll probably have to have a pretty big bucket or vat of water to push a large volume of air through. Then you’ll have to figure out what to do with the dirty water.
 
  • #5
TeethWhitener said:
Then you’ll have to figure out what to do with the dirty water.
As long as he is concentrating on the air in the house only it is not that bad. Would he try to filter the exhaust of the piles... That would be a different story.

HotFurnace said:
What if I let the filtered air bubbles through a water reservoir?
Wet air filtering gives a good search once the HVAC related results are eliminated... With positive pressure maintained in the house it might work, depending on your success with the DIY (?) filtering system itself.

Ps.: those eliminated HVAC related results are actually not that useless at all, they are mentioning a problem you have to address too: such wet filters means a fertile land for some bacteria and fungi, so be careful and thorough with your design.
 
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  • #6
Not only commercially but the plastic burning is gradually increasing domestically too.
People burning their plastic domestic waste do not realize harmful effects this practice can cause to their health as well as to the environment. A few latest researches show that backyard-burning of waste is far more harmful to our health than previously thought. It can increase the risk of heart disease, aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema, and cause rashes and nausea.

How to avoid Domestic Plastic Burning:
- Use local garbage and recycling services.
- Compost or chip yard waste.
- Buy items with less packaging.
- Educate your family and neighbours too.
 

Related to Harmful substances released by burning plastics?

1. What are the harmful substances released by burning plastics?

Burning plastics release a variety of harmful substances, including carbon monoxide, dioxins, furans, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These substances can have negative effects on human health and the environment.

2. How do these substances affect human health?

Exposure to the harmful substances released by burning plastics can lead to respiratory problems, neurological disorders, and even cancer. Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to these health effects.

3. Can these substances harm the environment?

Yes, the release of harmful substances from burning plastics can have a negative impact on the environment. These substances can contribute to air and water pollution and harm plants and animals.

4. Is there a safe way to dispose of plastics?

The safest way to dispose of plastics is through proper recycling. This prevents them from being burned and releasing harmful substances into the environment. However, some plastics cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in designated hazardous waste facilities.

5. Are there any alternatives to burning plastics?

Yes, there are many alternatives to burning plastics. These include reducing the use of plastics, using biodegradable or compostable materials, and finding alternative methods of waste disposal, such as incineration with proper emissions control.

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