Pattern of French dioxin emissions shifting

Wood, cable, burning take on new significance as waste incinerator, steelwork, emissions fall

The main sources of dioxin emissions in France fell in 1999, but some others may be more significant than previously realised, according to the country's environment ministry. Its latest review puts annual emissions at the end of last year at 200g for waste incinerators and 140g for the metallurgical industry. Both sectors combined have therefore cut emissions by 64% since 1995, and stricter rules are set to slash waste incinerator emissions to just 10g annually by 2007, the ministry notes.

Against these trends, other dioxin sources could now be much more significant for policy makers, the survey shows. Whereas a 1995 national survey was only able to estimate waste incineration and metallurgical emissions, the latest data roughly estimates at least a further 150g of annual emissions from other sources, some 30% of the total.

The largest is household wood burning, which could emit up to 100g of dioxins per year if 5% of consumption is not raw wood but treated material. Assuming half of wood consumed by industrial boilers is treated, emissions from this source could be up to 14g per year.

In addition, the ministry suggests that illicit burning of PVC cables could be emitting a further 40g annually. The estimate is based on an assumption that 40,000 tonnes of cables are treated in this way, emitting 1,000mg of dioxins per tonne.

Follow Up:
French environment ministry, tel: +33 1 42 19 20 21; The evolution of atmospheric dioxin emissions.

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