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A systematic approach for prioritizing landfill pollutants based on toxicity: Applications and opportunities

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Journal of Environmental Management


Landfills in the United States are a significant source of pollution to ground and surface water. Current environmental regulations require detection and/or monitoring assessments of landfill leachate for contaminants that have been deemed particularly harmful. However, the lists of contaminants to be monitored are not comprehensive. Further, landfill leachate composition varies over space and time, and thus the contaminants, and their corresponding toxicity, are not consistent across or within landfills. One of the main objectives of this study was to prioritize contaminants found in landfill leachate using a systematic, toxicity-based prioritization scheme. A literature review was conducted, and from it, 484 landfill leachate contaminants with available CAS numbers were identified. In vitro, in vivo, and predicted human toxicity data were collected from ToxCast, ECOTOX, and CTV Predictor, respectively. These data were integrated using the Toxicological Priority Index (ToxPi) for the 322 contaminants which had available toxicity data from at least two of the databases. Four modifications to this general prioritization scheme were developed to demonstrate the flexibility of this scheme for addressing varied research and applied objectives. The general scheme served as a basis for comparison of the results from the modified schemes, and allowed for identification of contaminants uniquely prioritized in each of the schemes. The schemes outlined here can be used to identify the most harmful contaminants in environmental media in order to design the most relevant mitigation strategies and monitoring plans. Finally, future research directions involving the combination of these prioritization schemes and non-target global metabolomic profiling are discussed.


Leachate; Contaminants; Prioritization; Databases; ToxPi; Ecotoxicology; Human health


Rogers, Elizabeth R.; Zalesny, Ronald S.; Lin, Chung-Ho. 2021. A systematic approach for prioritizing landfill pollutants based on toxicity: Applications and opportunities. Journal of Environmental Management. 284(1–4): 112031-.

Last updated on: August 2, 2022