Dioxins and polyvinylchloride in combustion and fires

Waste Manag Res. 2015 Jul;33(7):630-43. doi: 10.1177/0734242X15590651.


This review on polyvinylchloride (PVC) and dioxins collects, collates, and compares data from selected sources on the formation of polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), or in brief dioxins, in combustion and fires. In professional spheres, the incineration of PVC as part of municipal solid waste is seldom seen as a problem, since deep flue gas cleaning is required anyhow. Conversely, with its high content of chlorine, PVC is frequently branded as a major chlorine donor and spitefully leads to substantial formation of dioxins during poorly controlled or uncontrolled combustion and open fires. Numerous still ill-documented and diverse factors of influence may affect the formation of dioxins during combustion: on the one hand PVC-compounds represent an array of materials with widely different formulations; on the other hand these may all be exposed to fires of different nature and consequences. Hence, attention should be paid to PVC with respect to the ignition and development of fires, as well as attenuating the emission of objectionable compounds, such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen chloride, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins. This review summarises available dioxin emissions data, gathers experimental and simulation studies of fires and combustion tests involving PVC, and identifies and analyses the effects of several local factors of influence, affecting the formation of dioxins during PVC combustion.

Keywords: PVC; Polyvinylchloride; additives; dioxins; emissions; flame retardation; thermal decomposition; uncontrolled combustion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Dioxins / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fires*
  • Incineration*
  • Polyvinyl Chloride / chemistry*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Dioxins
  • Polyvinyl Chloride