A framework to assess the impact of flooding on the release of microplastics from waste management facilities

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Abstract

The impact of flood on waste management facilities can induce the release of micro pollutants to freshwater systems with concerning impacts on the marine environment, agricultural ecosystems, and human health. Almost 30% of the total waste managed in the UK in 2019 was characterised by Microplastic Releasers (MPRs): plastic waste, synthetic textile, rubber waste, and mix/undifferentiated materials that are able to or contain items that can deteriorate and fragment into micro components. In recent years, the management of solid waste and its contribution to flood-driven microplastic pollution has been limited with a focus on plastic waste mismanagement specifically, and the assessment of the risk is long overdue. We present a new methodology combining publicly available data on waste with pluvial and fluvial flood extent maps. The methodology was applied to the UK where the impact of pluvial flood on waste management facilities shows a 3-fold increment between 20 and 50-year return period in waste at risk of releasing microplastics during inundation resulting in almost 5 million tonnes per day. The methodology was applied to the UK where the impact of pluvial flood on waste management facilities shows a 3-fold increment between 20 and 50-year return period resulting in almost 5 million tonnes of waste per day at risk of releasing microplastics during inundation. We conclude that further studies at the local scale are necessary to establish site-specific mitigation measures and containment systems able to decrease the flood-induced microplastic mobilisation from waste management facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100105
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials Advances
Volume7
Early online date18 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • microplastic pollution
  • emerging contaminants
  • floods
  • waste management facilities
  • municipal solid waste

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