||Acurex Corp., Research Triangle Park, NC. ;Environmental Health Research and Testing, Inc., Durham, NC.;Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC.
Chemical and biological analyses were performed to characterize products of incomplete combustion emitted during the simulated open field burning of agricultural plastic. A small utility shed equipped with an air delivery system was used to simulate pile burning and forced-air-curtain incineration of a nonhalogenated agricultural plastic that reportedly consisted of polyethylene and carbon black. Emissions were analyzed for combustion gases; volatile, semi-volatile, and particulate organics; and toxic and mutagenic properties. Emission samples, as well as samples of the used (possibly pesticide-contaminated) plastic, were analyzed for the presence of several pesticides to which the plastic may have been exposed. When mutagenicity was evaluated by exposing Salmonella bacteria (Ames assay) to whole vapor and vapor/particulate emissions, no toxic or mutagenic effects were observed. However, organic extracts of the particulate samples were moderately mutagenic. The study highlights the benefits of a combined chemical/biological approach to the characterization of complex, multi-component combustion emissions. These results may not reflect those of other types of plastic that may be used for agricultural purposes, especially those containing halogens. (Copyright (c) 1989, Air & Waste Management Association.)