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Characteristics of Household Solid Waste Open Burning Emissions
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Open burning of household waste is a common phenomenon in many rural areas in developing countries, such as South Africa. Due to limited resources for collecting and proper disposal of the waste, household and municipal solid waste is often dumped in neighborhoods and are open burned in piles to reduce odor and create space for the incoming waste. Uncontrolled, low temperature burning, and smoldering conditions are typical associated with household waste fires. Emissions from these ground level burns cause local and regional air pollution, leading to adverse health effects among community residents. It is known that emissions from waste open burning can increase the risk of heart disease; aggravate respiratory ailments, such as asthma and emphysema; and cause rashes, nausea or headaches. Solid waste burning also produces harmful quantities of pollutants that settle on crops and in waterways, where they eventually wind up in our food and affect our health. In addition, the large amount of greenhouse gases and particles can affect global and regional radiation budget. Despite their significant impact on air quality, human health, and climate, very few studies have characterized emissions from open burning of household waste. In this study, we conducted a systematic laboratory combustion of eight categories of wastes including: paper, rubber, textile, plastic (hard and soft), vegetation (with three different moisture contents), food discards, and combined materials. Key results include emission factors of important pollutants as well as size distribution and optical properties of smoke particles. These data will provide key information for emission inventory, air quality management, climate impact assessment, and health effects evaluation.