Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure

Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure

Toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) is a soil sample extraction method for chemical analysis employed as an analytical method to simulate leaching through a landfill. The leachate is analysed for substances appropriate to the protocol.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) established US federal laws for the disposal of wastes. RCRA requires that industrial waste streams and other wastes must be characterized following protocols laid out in SW-846. TCLP is one of these tests.

The Environmental Compliance Supervisor (the "gatekeeper") at a typical municipal (Title D) landfill uses TCLP data to determine whether a waste may be accepted into the facility. If TCLP analytical results are below the TCLP D-list maximum contamination levels (MCLs) the waste can be accepted. If they are above these levels the waste must be taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility and the cost of disposal may increase from about $20/ton to as much as $500/ton.

TCLP comprises four fundamental procedures:
*Sample preparation for leaching
*Sample leaching
*Preparation of leachate for analysis
*Leachate analysis

As extremely contaminated material is expensive to dispose of, grading is necessary to ensure safe disposal and to avoid paying for disposal of 'clean fill'. The TCLP procedure is generally useful for classifying waste material for disposal options.

A concern has arisen in recent years regarding TCLP analysis in that the test is based on the assumption that the waste material will be buried in landfill along with organic material, however organic matter is rarely buried with other waste anymore (composting usually applies). In light of this issue other leachate techniques may be more appropriate.

In the TCLP procedure the pH of the sample material is first established, and then leached with an acetic acid / sodium hydroxide solution at a 1:20 mix of sample to solvent. The leachate solution is sealed in extraction vessel for general analytes, or possibly pressure sealed as in zero-headspace extractions (ZHE) for volatile organic compounds and tumbled for 18 hours to simulate an extended leaching time in the ground.

ee also

*Landfill gas monitoring

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