An Assessment of Landfill Fires and Their Potential Health Effects- a Case Study of a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill in Lagos, Nigeria

Adeolu O. Aderemi; Adebayo A. Otitoloju
Landfill fires are an ongoing, complex global concern as they pose a threat to the environment and human health through the hazardous chemical compounds they emit. They are usually caused deliberately or by spontaneous combustion of decomposing waste involving methane from landfill gas. They are prevalent in the dry season due to hotter temperatures in this period, when there is a greater chance of spontaneous combustion occurring. The danger and level of toxicity of the pollutants emitted depend on the length of exposure to them and the type of material that is burning. The risk posed by these fires is high in Nigeria where landfills are located within residential quarters, lack collection systems for landfill gas and harbour large volume of waste tyres. Of particular health concern are the tyre fires on these fills which burn for a long time allowing the build up of the by-products of combustion around surrounding homes. Burning tyres are known to emit dioxins and benzene derivatives which have been linked with reproductive impairment and cancer in humans. It is therefore necessary to study these fires and their potential effects on human health. Effective landfill management by the operators is necessary to prevent the occurrence of these harmful fires. This paper attempts to give some insight into landfill fires and their potential health effects using an unsanitary landfill in Lagos, Nigeria as a case study. It calls for the need to construct and operate well-engineered municipal solid waste landfills that are regulated under strict federal and state regulations to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.
landfill fires; spontaneous combustion; waste tyres; tyre fires; hazardous; dioxins; methane; health effects
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