Frequent Questions

How do EPA's Hazardous Waste Combustion Emission Standards stack up against those for municipal waste combustors and against those used in Europe?

The hazardous waste and municipal waste standards are actually very similar, particularly for the key pollutants -- dioxins, furans, and mercury. It is important to remember that our Clean Air Act sets out a technology-based approach for setting limits for existing facilities on a category-by-category basis. Therefore, standards for Municipal Waste Combustors (MWCs) and hazardous waste burners are calculated based on different facilities and on different historical performance data.

Our standards and those in Europe are also very close to each other. Although some methods for measuring emissions and the legal structure in which we are both working are different, the standards for dioxins and furans are virtually identical. For metals, the numbers are also quite close. See table below:

Municipal Waste and European Standards Versus HWC Standards(Existing Sources Only)

Large Existing Municipal Waste Combustors European Union Hazardous Waste Combustors HW Incinerators HW Cement Kilns HW Lightweight Agg. Kilns

(ng/dscm TEQ)1

0.5-1.02 0.19 0.20 or 0.40 plus off-gas T quench to 400F3 0.20 or 0.40 plus off-gas T quench to400F3 0.20 or 0.40 plus off-gas T quench to400F3


27 39 34 0.15 kg/Mg dry feed and opacity less than 20 percent. 57


80 130 130 120 47
Semi-Volatile Metals (ug/dscm)

-- cadmium and lead

89 195 240 240 250
Low Volatility Metals (ug/dscm)

- antimony, arsenic, beryllium, and chromium

none 1170 97 56 110
HCl and Cl2


31 48 77 130 230

1 TEQ refers to 2,3,7,8-TCDD toxicity equivalence, the method of relating the toxicity of various dioxin/furan congeners to the toxicity of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo(p)dioxin.

2 In the MWC final rule, the dioxin/furan standard is expressed as either 30 or 60 ng/dscm for all dioxin/furan congeners (depending on whether a fabric filter/baghouse or an electrostatic precipitator is used by the facility). This standard is equivalent approximately to 0.5 to 1.0 ng/dscm TEQ.

3 When gas temperatures are quenched to 400F, D/F emissions are typically 0.20 ng/dscm.


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