Pollutant Information: Dioxins (PCDD/F)
About Dioxins (PCDD/F)
Category: Air pollutants
Dioxins and furans (PCDD/F), often simply referred to as 'dioxins', are a group of chemically related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants (POPs). Emissions of dioxins have declined by 89% over the period 1990 to 2020. Dioxins can arise from any high temperature process where chlorine is present in any form. One of the largest sources of dioxins emissions in the past has been municipal solid waste (MSW) incineration; however, since the early 1990s, all MSW incineration must include energy recovery, as such emissions were recategorized, to be reported under energy generation rather than municipal waste incineration. This means that the dioxins emissions from municipal waste incineration alone has dropped to 0 since 2001. During the same period, limits on the concentration of dioxins allowed in waste gases from these processes were introduced leading to a 74% reduction in total dioxins emissions between 1990 and 2001. Since 2001, dioxins emissions have continued to fall with the total 2020 emissions being 55% lower than the 2001 figure. Emissions from petrol road vehicles have also decreased significantly – by 99% between 1990 and 2020. Emissions from road transport are associated with compounds previously added to leaded petrol. Consequently, the emissions of dioxins decrease in line with lead emissions from the Road Transport sector.
In recent years, the main sources of dioxins have been domestic combustion of solid fuels like wood and coal (25% of UK emissions in 2020), accidental fires and small-scale burning of waste such as on garden bonfires and on bonfire night (31%) and iron and steel production (14%).
Time series graph
|Start year||End year||Sector||Information||Impact|
|1990||1995||Waste Incineration & Combustion of fuels (Combustion Residential Commercial, Institutional).||Closure of, and abatement fitted to UK waste incineration plant with and without energy recovery.||Decrease in emissions|
|1993||1993||Agriculture||Field burning of agricultural waste stopped after 1993.||Decrease in emissions|