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Waste Manag. 2017 Oct;68:677-687. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2017.07.015. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Emission characteristics and variation of volatile odorous compounds in the initial decomposition stage of municipal solid waste.

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School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China.
School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China. Electronic address:


The odour pollution occurring in the initial decomposition stage of municipal solid waste (MSW), including collection, transfer and transportation, has not been sufficiently emphasised. Thus the emission characteristics of and variation in odorant generation in this stage were investigated through simulation experiments at different temperatures, waste composition and processing durations. Out of 120 odorous compounds, 52 were detected in seven categories under all tested conditions, with significant variations. In the total concentration and emission rate, ethanol generally showed the largest proportion (larger than 80% on average), followed by unsaturated hydrocarbons which were dominated by propylene (13.1% on average of concentration proportion). The total emissions rapidly increased with processing duration when the temperatures were 15°C to 30°C. The proportion of ethanol increased significantly from 40.1% at 6h to 82.9% at 24h at 30°C. By contrast, a low temperature (5°C) resulted in low concentrations, and propylene accounted for the largest proportion instead of ethanol. With increasing temperature, biogenic compounds with large proportions increased more rapidly than xenobiotic compounds because of accelerated biological process and volatilisation. The emission rates of oxygenated compounds, saturated hydrocarbons, unsaturated hydrocarbons and halogenated compounds significantly increased (by approximately 20% to 50%) with an increase in easily biodegradable portion in the MSW. The proportions were relatively stable with the MSW composition variation, suggesting that most xenobiotic compounds were also derived from easily degradable portions. The olfactory evaluation showed that organic sulphur compounds contributed the most (approximately 75% to 95%) to odour pollution at the beginning of the stage because of their extremely low olfactory thresholds, with methanethiol as the dominant contributor (approximately 50% to 80% when detected). Results of this study can provide useful information for an improved understanding and monitoring of odorant emissions in the initial decomposition stage of MSW.


Dilution multiple; Initial decomposition stage; Municipal solid waste (MSW); Odour pollution; Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

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