Why should people care about the gasses that are being emitted from landfills?
There are two ways that the toxins from these landfill gasses are directly harmful to the public. The first is through Subsurface Migration; which is when the toxins make their way into the ground and are carried on below the surface. This has become less common since 1993 when a law was created that required all landfills to properly line the ground beneath the garbage. This can be dangerous because it is made up of 50% methane, making it highly flammable and has been known to cause explosions and fires.
The second and more common way that these gasses travel to populous locations is through Surface Emissions, or more clearly recognized as the landfill gasses. These gasses are made up of carbon dioxide, methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This should be concerning to humans because of both environmental and health related issues that are correlated with the gasses. Methane is a primary cause of greenhouse gasses and traps roughly 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. When looking at health concerns, these gasses cause a variety of health concerns such as; cancer, respiratory illness and damage to the central nervous system.
There are even concerns associated with the method of disposing of garbage in these landfills. Incarceration releases persistent organic pollutants, otherwise known as dioxins and furans, which are a group of toxic chemical compounds. The health concerns linked with these toxin chemical compounds include cancer, birth and developmental defects, diabetes, lung and skin problems along with many other effects. When compared to other ways that humans are exposed to these, waste incarceration is more recently, on the lower end of the scale for exposure. This is only because of the efforts to reduce this danger by learning safer ways to burn garbage. More innovation like this is crucial in the future, in order to continue down this path of safer waste disposal and decreasing these dangerous greenhouse gasses.