- Short-lived climate pollutants
- Our work
- Our partners
- Resources for action
- News & Events
- About Us
The Iowa City Landfill in eastern Iowa, United States, experienced a fire lasting 18 days in 2012, in which a drainage layer of over 1 million shredded tires burned, generating smoke that impacted the surrounding metropolitan area of 130,000 people. This emergency required air monitoring, risk assessment, dispersion modeling, and public notification. This paper quantifies the impact of the fire on local air quality and proposes a monitoring approach and an air quality index (AQI) for use in future tire fires and other urban fires. Individual fire pollutants are ranked for acute and cancer relative risks using hazard ratios, with the highest acute hazard ratios attributed to SO2, particulate matter, and aldehydes. Using a dispersion model in conjunction with the new AQI, we estimate that smoke concentrations reached unhealthy outdoor levels for sensitive groups out to distances of 3.1 km and 18 km at 24-h and 1-h average times, respectively. Modeled and measured concentrations of PM2.5 from smoke and other compounds such as VOCs and benzo[a]pyrene are presented at a range of distances and averaging times, and the corresponding cancer risks are discussed. Through reflection on the air quality response to the event, consideration of cancer and acute risks, and comparison to other tire fires, we recommend that all landfills with shredded tire liners plan for hazmat fire emergencies. A companion paper presents emission factors and detailed smoke characterization.
A. Singh, S. N . Spak, E. A. Stone, J. Downard, R. L . Bullard, M. Pooley, P. A. Kostle, M. W. Mainprize, M. D. Wichman, T. M. Peters, D. Beardsley, & C. O. Stanier (2015) Uncontrolled combustion of shredded tires in a landfill – Part 2: Population exposure, public health response, and an air quality index for urban fires, ATMOSPHERIC ENVIRONMENT 104:273-283.