Air Pollution from Landfills May Be Contributing to an Increase in Premature Mortalities



Recyclable garbage consisting of glass plastic metal and paperAs environmental conditions get worse, people are looking deeper into our everyday processes of waste disposal, which have been linked to climate change. With the average person generating around four pounds of trash everyday, finding suitable forms of waste removal is becoming an increasingly important matter.

According to Discovery News, an analysis of the volume of landfills conducted in 2012 grossly underestimated how much trash was being disposed of in this manner. The original estimate of 122 millions tons recorded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) paled in comparison to the actual 262 million tons of waste present in landfills that year.

The biggest worry stemming from these numbers is the production of the greenhouse gas methane, which is a direct result of the emissions given off by landfills.

“These results demonstrate the clear need to target open landfills to achieve significant near-term methane emission reductions,” said a trio of United States-based environmental scientists from the journal Natural Climate Change.

They found that landfills are the third largest man-made source of methane air pollution in the United States.

Ars Technica, a technology journal, recently reported on the prevalence of deaths caused by this air pollution. They estimated that back in 2010, up to 3.15 million individuals suffered from strokes (cerebrovascular disease) and heart attacks (ischemic heart disease) as a result of carbon-containing particle pollutants.

They based their study on the emissions from multiple sources, including residential and commercial energy use, agriculture, power generation, industry, biomass burning, land traffic, and even natural sources of air pollutants. While this obviously encompasses more than just gas emissions from landfills, dumps are only one small piece of a large web of pollution surrounding the world.

Based on currently agreed upon international legislation, the authors estimate that there will be a significant increase in the instances of premature mortality in America. Their hope is that by using their study for differential toxicity, they will be able reevaluate the current understanding of the effects air pollution has on people.

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