What are Landfill Gasses?
One of the biggest concerns with landfills is the gas that the organic material emits while decomposing. This “Landfill Gas” is made up of 90-98% methane and carbon dioxide, leaving the other 2-10% oxygen, nitrogen along with other various gasses. This gas can be created in three ways. Bacterial decomposition is the most common; it takes place naturally from organic material and soil when in a landfill. The second likely cause for landfill gasses is Volatilization, this occurs when the compound turns into a gas vapor, this could be from certain chemicals and waste in the landfill. And finally the third type of landfill gas is from chemical reactions, which just as it sounds is from chemicals that have been disposed of. There are otherwise known as non-methane organic materials or NMOC. Some common examples of these are bleach, cleaning products and paint. This is dangerous because of chemicals that are not meant to come in contact with one another, can, and will then let off dangerous gasses and reactions. Other factors that play a role in the creation of landfill gas include the type of waste, the temperature and climate of the location of the landfill, if any (or how much) chemical waste is involved, and moisture level. These can all take a toll on the process and timeframe of decomposing and the break down of these materials.
Are they harmful to us?
These gasses have not been a major danger to the public; however there have been studies and results showing negative results because of this gas. Short-term effects are commonly irritation to the face/eyes/throat, coughing and inflammation of the lungs and nausea. Where some long-term effects have more commonly been aggravation of asthma, lung and breathing difficulties, weight loss and insomnia. These studies were done over long periods of time in communities directly exposed to landfill gas. More general dangers associated with landfill gas is simply that it is made of primarily of methane which is highly flammable, and if in an environment of space that could become flammable, the gas can become an explosive mixture of chemicals.