Emerging Contaminants at a Closed and an Operating Landfill in Oklahoma



Landfills are the final depositories for a wide range of solid waste from both residential and commercial sources, and therefore have the potential to produce leachate containing many organic compounds found in consumer products such as pharmaceuticals, plasticizers, disinfectants, cleaning agents, fire retardants, flavorings, and preservatives, known as emerging contaminants (ECs). Landfill leachate was sampled from landfill cells of three different age ranges from two landfills in Central Oklahoma. Samples were collected from an old cell containing solid waste greater than 25 years old, an intermediate age cell with solid waste between 16 and 3 years old, and operating cell with solid waste less than 5 years old to investigate the chemical variability and persistence of selected ECs in landfill leachate of differing age sources. Twenty-eight of 69 analyzed ECs were detected in one or more samples from the three leachate sources. Detected ECs ranged in concentration from 0.11 to 114 μg/L and included 4 fecal and plant sterols, 13 household\industrial, 7 hydrocarbon, and 4 pesticide compounds. Four ECs were solely detected in the oldest leachate sample, two ECs were solely detected in the intermediate leachate sample, and no ECs were solely detected in the youngest leachate sample. Eleven ECs were commonly detected in all three leachate samples and are an indication of the contents of solid waste deposited over several decades and the relative resistance of some ECs to natural attenuation processes in and near landfills.