Formaldehyde Released in Leachate from Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) Buried in a Simulated Landfill

Author(s): Lee, M.; Prewitt, M.; Borazjani, H.; Mun, S.

Formaldehyde, a flammable, colorless, highly reactive gas at standard temperature and pressure, is commonly found in the environment. However, formaldehyde is toxic in high concentrations and causes health issues for human. Approximately 14 million tons of wood waste containing formaldehyde based resins are generated yearly and disposed in large pits and landfills or burned. No regulations however exist for formaldehyde emission from formaldehyde bonded wood waste buried in landfills. More information is needed about the environmental impact of formaldehyde released in water from formaldehyde bonded wood waste buried in landfills. The objectives of this study were to determine a) the amount of formaldehyde released, b) the amount of dissolved oxygen, and c) the microbial enumerations in leachate from MDF buried in a simulated landfill using two board sizes. Simulated landfills were constructed in cylindrical plastic containers (15.24 cm diameter, 22.86 cm high) with alternating layers of 2.54 cm silty clay soil and MDF for a total of five layers. Leachate was sampled on day 0, 7, 14, 21 and 28 for formaldehyde analysis and dissolved oxygen and microbial enumeration were conducted only at the beginning and end of the study. Formaldehyde released in leachate was determined by derivatizing using pentafluorbenzylhydroxylamine and analyzing by gas chromatography with electron capture detection. Preliminary results indicate that formaldehyde released in the leachate was reduced by 99% at the end of the study. The initial pH of the leachate from soil without MDF was 5.87 and increased to 6.18 at the first week's sampling time and remained at approximately 6.22 through week five, while the leachate from soil with added MDF had an initial pH of 4.66 and increased weekly to 6.40 on week 5. Results from this study should provide new information about the fate of wood waste containing formaldehyde disposed in landfills.

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