The 14th International Congress on Combustion By-Products and Their Health Effects was held in Ume?, Sweden from June 14th to 17th, 2015. The Congress, mainly sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Research Program and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning, focused on the "Origin, fate and health effects of combustion-related air pollutants in the coming era of bio-based energy sources". The international delegates included academic and government researchers, engineers, scientists, policymakers and representatives of industrial partners. The Congress provided a unique forum for the discussion of scientific advances in this research area since it addressed in combination the health-related issues and the environmental implications of combustion by-products. The scientific outcomes of the Congress included the consensus opinions that: (a) there is a correlation between human exposure to particulate matter and increased cardiac and respiratory morbidity and mortality; (b) because currently available data does not support the assessment of differences in health outcomes between biomass smoke and other particulates in outdoor air, the potential human health and environmental impacts of emerging air-pollution sources must be addressed. Assessment will require the development of new approaches to characterize combustion emissions through advanced sampling and analytical methods. The Congress also concluded the need for better and more sustainable e-waste management and improved policies, usage and disposal methods for materials containing flame retardants.
Surfaces of fly ashes from three Swedish MSW incinerating plants were extensively characterized to better predict their involvement in the generation of persistent organic pollutants. The ashes were then subjected to thermal treatment at 400 °C in sealed glass ampoules to track the decomposition polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans (PCDD and PCDF). Temperature programmed desorption experiments in the 30-900 °C range also enabled monitoring of thermally decomposing ashes by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy as well as thermally desorbing effluent gases by mass spectrometry. In addition, one ash was doped with (13)C-labelled PCDD and PCDF to evaluate the potential of the experimental setup for elucidating the thermal desorption of the organic molecules. It was found that in ashes with high carbon content PCDD and PCDF decomposition were led pronounced, and that PCDD degraded more readily than PCDF.