A combined approach to investigate the toxicity of an industrial landfill's leachate: Chemical analyses, risk assessment and in vitro assays

D. Baderna, S. Maggioni, E. Boriani, S. Gemma, M. Molteni, A. Lombardo, A. Colombo, S. Bordonali, G. Rotella, M. Lodi, E. Benfenati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Solid wastes constitute an important and emerging problem. Landfills are still one of the most common ways to manage waste disposal. The risk assessment of pollutants from landfills is becoming a major environmental issue in Europe, due to the large number of sites and to the importance of groundwater protection. Furthermore, there is lack of knowledge for the environmental, ecotoxicological and toxicological characteristics of most contaminants contained into landfill leacheates. Understanding leachate composition and creating an integrated strategy for risk assessment are currently needed to correctly face the landfill issues and to make projections on the long-term impacts of a landfill, with particular attention to the estimation of possible adverse effects on human health and ecosystem. In the present study, we propose an integrated strategy to evaluate the toxicity of the leachate using chemical analyses, risk assessment guidelines and in vitro assays using the hepatoma HepG2 cells as a model. The approach was applied on a real case study: an industrial waste landfill in northern Italy for which data on the presence of leachate contaminants are available from the last 11 years. Results from our ecological risk models suggest important toxic effects on freshwater fish and small rodents, mainly due to ammonia and inorganic constituents. Our results from in vitro data show an inhibition of cell proliferation by leachate at low doses and cytotoxic effect at high doses after 48. h of exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-613
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2011



  • HepG2
  • Integrated approach
  • Leachate
  • Risk assessment
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Biochemistry

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