Iranian DOE succeeded in monitoring dioxin, furan emissions

May 18, 2019

TEHRAN – Dioxin and furan, highly toxic persistent organic pollutants, have been sampled for the first time in an attempt by experts, head of environmental pollutants monitoring office at the Department of Environment (DOE) said.

Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDD) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are highly toxic persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which can cause various health outcomes, such as cancer. They are found throughout the world in the environment and accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.

Sampling of dioxins and furans is an automatic system for continuous monitoring of emissions from industrial processes which require official approval in compliance with environmental regulations.

“Sampling was carried out in a waste disposal site in Markazi province during three days with DOE representatives in attendance,” Mehr quoted Shina Ansari as saying on Saturday.

“The process of measuring and sampling dioxin and furans emissions is complex and requires specific equipment,” she added.

Considering waste incinerators operations in the northern part of the country, measurements of dioxins and furans, emitted from the incinerators, are of particular importance, she said, adding that it has always been emphasized that high-tech waste incinerators [to avoid release of such hazardous emissions] should be purchased, but waste segregation at source plays a more vital role in this regard.

Burning wet and dry waste can increase the concentration of air pollutants, therefore, even if incinerators are advanced, measuring dioxins and furans at the smoke released from the incinerators is undeniable, she highlighted.

She went on to state that measuring these pollutants using domestic lab and experts is a turning point in monitoring specific emissions.

“Monitoring specific air pollutants such as heavy metal, volatile organic compounds, including dioxins and furans, is one of the measures needed to be taken alongside monitoring common air quality index in mega cities and industrial areas,” she concluded.

Effects of dioxins on human health

According to WHO, short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. Chronic exposure of animals to dioxins has resulted in several types of cancer. 

Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure and a certain level of dioxins in the body, leading to the so-called body burden. Current normal background exposure is not expected to affect human health on average. However, due to the high toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.

How to control dioxin exposure?

Proper incineration of contaminated material is the best available method of preventing and controlling exposure to dioxins. The incineration process requires high temperatures, over 850°C. For the destruction of large amounts of contaminated material, even higher temperatures - 1000°C or more - are required.

Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins as much as possible.

FB/MQ/MG

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