NIIST scientists to probe Brahmapuram fire emissions

Toxic chemicals released following February 18 fire to be estimated

The CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST) will estimate the amount of the highly contaminated dioxin and furan toxic chemicals that were released following a major fire at Brahmapuram on February 18.

The decision to ask researchers at the institute to conduct the study was taken by the State Level Monitoring Committee on Solid Waste Management. A team from NIIST had visited Brahmapuram on February 21 to record emissions from the site following the fire.

Firefighters from various stations of the Department of Fire and Rescue Services had worked till the morning of February 20 to douse the blaze. The thick smoke from the yard had spread up to Vyttila and Kadavanthra, triggering concern among the public. Dioxins are highly toxic chemical compounds that are harmful to health. They are known as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

This was the second time that NIIST researchers had reached Brahmapuram to analyse the presence of toxic chemicals released into the air after legacy waste (old waste) at the dump site caught fire. They had also carried out an on-site ambient air and residual ash sampling after a major fire at Brahmapuram on February 23 last year.

The study had found that the levels of dioxin observed in residual ash samples analysed were in the range observed in various infamous dumping sites in Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Netherlands, Greece, and the United States.

“The average concentration of 158.5 ng TEQ (toxic equivalents)/kg observed in residual ash samples at Brahmapuram is in the range of dioxin levels observed in various infamous dumping sites in Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Netherlands, Greece, and the USA. The dioxin levels reported at an infamous dumping yard at Perungudi in Chennai is 52 ng TEQ/kg. The level observed at Brahmapuram is about three times higher than that at Perungudi,” the study report pointed out.

It recommended the setting up of modern solid waste treatment plants and clearing dumping yards of waste through bio-mining to separate combustible and inert materials. Given the widespread burning of waste and dumping yard fires, the study recommended an analysis of dioxins in animal origin food samples such as milk, egg, and meat as well as human milk.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 3:52:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/niist-scientists-to-probe-brahmapuram-fire-emissions/article30994833.ece

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