Municipal solid waste landfills produce potentially hazardous pollutants.
Federal and state regulations mitigate environmental pollution and health risks.
Landfills decrease nearby property values and may increase adverse birth outcomes.
Municipal solid waste landfills (MSWLs) are areas of land that collect non-hazardous household waste.
Waste decomposing in landfills generates gases, about 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide (EPA 2023).
Leachate is formed when water filtering through a landfill is contaminated by waste (e.g., microplastics, nutrients) or other chemicals (e.g., metals, toxic compounds; EPA 2022; Vaverková 2019; Wang 2023).
There is limited research on the characteristics of non-hazardous waste sites.
Health and economic impacts of MSWLs often depend on proximity and size.
Humans may be exposed to MSWL pollution via the air, or by leachate contamin-ation of the soil, ground, and water.
Research on whether living near a MSWL negatively impacts health is complicated by several factors (Vrijheid 2000).
The is some evidence of health risks due to living near a MSWL on adverse birth outcomes, increased risk of mortality, respiratory conditions (e.g., increased rates of pneumonia, sleep-related disorders, and bronchitis), and negative mental health effects associated with living near a MSWL (Vrijheid 2000; Vinti 2021).
Landfills can generate unpleasant odors, particularly downwind of a landfill site (Palmiotto 2014).
Landfills that accept 500+ tons of trash per day decrease neighboring residential property values by about 14% on average (Ready 2010). The negative economic impact decreases by about 6% per mile away from the landfill.
The U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Subtitle D sets federal regulations for several aspects of MSWLs, such as (EPA 2022):
Location. MSWLs cannot be built in certain areas (e.g., near wetlands and floodplains).
Leachate. MSWLs must be lined with a membrane that protects groundwater and the underlying soil from leachate. Equip-ment must be installed to remove leachate from MSWLs for treatment and disposal.
Monitoring. Groundwater must be tested at least twice a year to determine if waste has leaked from a MSWL.
Closure. Owners must install a final cover over the MSWL and ensure that the cover, leachate collection, and groundwater mon-itoring systems work for 30 years after closure. States may adjust this timeframe.
Financing. All MSWL owners and operators must be able to pay for closures and any corrective actions if MSWL contaminants leak into the surrounding environment.
States primarily ensure that federal regulations are met, and may choose to set stricter regulations (EPA 2022).
There are 17 MSWLs in MO (MO DNR). The MO Dept. Of Natural Resources permits MSWLs based on what solid wastes they can accept (MDNR 2 n.d.).
MSWL permitting takes an average of 5 years.
Violations of MSWL regulations can result in a penalty of up to $1000 per day the violation occurred (RSMo 260.240).
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