Comparative Health Risks of Domestic Waste Combustion in Urban and Rural Slovakia

This paper addresses the health risk incurred by two alternative waste management schemes:  open burning of household waste in barrels practiced in rural Slovakia and controlled municipal waste combustion in the city of Bratislava. Using agricultural land use data and village population data we formulate three prototype villages, each representing about one-third of the rural population. The two configurations of the controlled combustion are an outdated municipal waste incinerator (MWI) and a modern waste-to-energy (WTE) plant equipped with modern air pollution control devices. These configurations actually exist(ed) in Bratislava, Slovakia at the same site, but in different time frames. The CALPUFF model provides direct exposure data and the EMERAM software (developed in this paper) computes indirect exposure. A major source of uncertainty is that of the fraction of waste burned in the open. The analysis presented here assumed 10%. At this level, the cancer risk from open burning ranges from 10 to 80 times the commonly regarded de minimus value of one in a million. This means that under the U.S. contemporary regulatory culture, some regulatory action to control or enforce the burning ban would be expected. Cancer risks from the incinerator ranged from 7 to 371 in a million while the WTE risks were below 1 in a million. Cancer risks from open burning are higher than those of the WTE plant and at the same time affect a larger portion of concerned population.