Field investigation of the quality of fresh and aged leachates from selected landfills receiving e-waste in an arid climate

Peeranart KIDDEE, Ravi NAIDU, Ming Hung WONG, Laurence HEARN, Jochen F. MULLER

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23 Citations (Scopus)


The management of electronic waste (e-waste) is a serious problem worldwide and much of it is landfilled. A survey of four selected landfills in an arid region of South Australia was conducted to determine the proportion of e-waste in municipal waste and the properties of each landfill site. Leachate and groundwater samples were collected upgradient and downgradient of the landfills for analysis of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and 14 metals and metalloids, including Al, As, Ba, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Ni, Pb, Sb, V and Zn. Our data demonstrate that the selected landfills in South Australia continue to receive municipal waste containing in excess of 6%, or 25,000. tonnes per year, of e-waste. The leachates and groundwater collected from the landfills contained significantly elevated concentrations of Pb with the highest concentration in groundwater of 38. μg/l, almost four times higher than the Australian drinking water guideline of 10. μg/l. The presence of PBDEs was detected in both leachate and groundwater samples. Total PBDEs values of 2.13-59.75. ng/l in leachate samples were 10 times higher than in groundwater samples, which recorded a range of 0.41-6.53. ng/l at all sites. Moreover, the concentrations of metals and metalloids in sampled groundwater contained elevated levels of Al, As, Fe, Ni and Pb that exceeded Australian drinking water guideline values. For these reasons potential leaching of these contaminants is of concern and while difficult to attribute elevated contaminant levels to e-waste, we do not recommend continued disposal of e-waste in old landfills that were not originally designed to contain leachates. The survey also revealed temporal variation in the electrical conductivity and concentrations of As, Cd and Pb present in leachates of landfills in arid Mediterranean climates. These results are consistent with the marked variations in rainfall patterns observed for such climates. The solute concentration (EC and other ions including As, Cd and Pb) declines in the leachates during wet winter months (June to September), in contrast to tropical countries where such changes are observed during wet summer months. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2292-2304
JournalWaste Management
Issue number11
Early online date26 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014



Kiddee, P., Naidu, R., Wong, M. H., Hearn, L., & Muller, J. F. (2014). Field investigation of the quality of fresh and aged leachates from selected landfills receiving e-waste in an arid climate. Waste Management, 34(11), 2292-2304. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2014.06.018


  • E-waste
  • Landfill
  • Heavy metals and metalloids
  • PBDEs
  • Leachate
  • Groundwater