Mechanical-Biological Treatment

Environmental pollutants during the mechanical-biological pretreatment of municipal solid waste (MSW)

In the results of the qualitative substance identification and evaluation by means of various screening methods, three graded lists of substances were compiled: an extensive list of all individual air pollutants, a practice-oriented short list of the most relevant pollutants, and one with sum parameters which can serve as a measuring concept for operational surveillance.


While a series of emission limit values for waste incineration plants exists, under the authorisation policy for biological waste treatment plants immission control has until now only considered the parameters of dust and odour.

This was the project’s background for tests on the presence of environmental chemicals in various processes of biological treatment of municipal solid waste. The central concern hereby was the qualitative identification of substances in exhaust emissions by means of various screening methods and their evaluation according to environmental relevance.


  • The evaluation, classification, and composition of environmental chemicals based on the criteria toxicity, persistence and accumulation capacity, odour, resulting products, and climatic relevance took place according to the Technical Instructions on Air Quality.
  • The emissions were quantified and a standard measuring program was proposed. It contained measurements of individual substances of representative air parameters as well as simple established sum parameters.
  • The essential processes and process combinations of intensive treatment (mechanical treatment, intensive rotting, fermentation, after-rotting) were covered during the measurements.
  • In the case of the organic exhaust components, we are dealing on the one hand with environmental chemicals which are already in the waste, on the other hand with metabolites which are spread in the exhaust as an intermediate product of  biological decomposition.

The individual results are given in full detail in the final report.

Project Participants

Cooperation Partner

Fraunhofer Institute of Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM)

More Project Information

Project title: Balance of environmental pollutants during mechanical-biological pretreatment of municipal solid waste (MSW): screening, inventory analysis

Project number: 1490959/3

Project period: 1995 - 1996

Project region: Germany (Lower Saxony)

Project contact:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Heiko Doedens
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Source: German National Library of Science and Technology Hannover (TIB)