Implication of heavy metals distribution for a municipal solid waste management system--a case study in Shanghai.Sci Total Environ. 2008 Sep 01; 402(2-3):257-67.ST
Heavy metal contamination in municipal solid waste (MSW) is of increasing concern. The occurrence and distribution of heavy metals in MSW and their implications for the integrated MSW management system in mega-cities have been investigated by means of material flow analysis based on a case study of Shanghai in China. A good statistical basis was provided through a one-year monitoring program on the mass and metals composition of the waste from three MSW treatment facilities. The results showed that the main heavy metals in the MSW were Zn, Cr, Cu, and Pb (on average >100 mg kg(-1)), followed by Ni, Cd, and Hg. The MSW contained higher levels of Cu and Ni in metals, Cr and Pb in plastics, and Pb and Zn in the inorganic fractions. Regardless of the sources, the statistically similar heavy metal contents in the organic fractions indicated that effective blending and diffusion of heavy metals had taken place throughout the MSW collection, transfer, transportation, and storage, leading to cross-contamination of the waste fractions. PU (composed of putrescible waste and miscellaneous indistinguishable particles) contributed the majority of the heavy metals to the MSW, followed by plastics, as a result of the predominance in the overall composition of PU and plastics rather than from differences in their heavy metal contents. Therefore, manual or mechanical separation of some significantly heavy metal-rich fractions alone is not sufficient to reduce the heavy metal contents in the MSW. Source separation of organic waste and the diversion of tailored inorganic waste such as hazardous components, construction and demolition waste, etc., are proposed to control the heavy metal contamination in MSW. For the mixed MSW management system, physicochemical fractionation to exclude particles containing high levels of heavy metals can be conducted.