In Argentina, Holcim burns waste. The population of Yocsina is
complaining about white powder from the cement kilns, the effects of
which include headache, skin rashes and abdominal pain. A study by
Professor Raul Montenegro found that particles of heavy metal are
contained in the powder. These particles are absorbed through the
respiratory tract and the skin. Two studies by the University of
Cordoba (2009 and 2010) show that Holcim exceeds the maximum TCDD dioxin
levels by 52% and 203%.
- Holcim Argentina has never received massive complains from
neighboring communities regarding headaches, skin rashes nor
- Punctual complaints, received in 2010 regarding smell and dust
emissions from the Yocsina cement plant, were solved through
dialogue with the community and local authorities.
- Early 2011, an investigation determined that dioxin emis-sion
tests performed by the UTN (laboratory designated by Malagueño’s
municipality) in 2010 did not fully comply with international
standards for such type of tests; in particular, only one test run
was performed instead of the 3 runs required to eliminate process
- However, some samples of iron corrective were found to contain
organic traces, thus Holcim Argentina immediately discontinued the
usage of such corrective.
- In 2011, the UTN performed the emission monitoring plans as
requested by the municipal authority and following in-ternational
standards. Both, the UTN and the control measurements performed by
the laboratory chosen by Holcim Argentina, proved Holcim Argentina’s
dioxin emis-sions to be below national legal limits.
- Monitoring plans for 2012 will follow those of 2011. Holcim
Argentina does not foresee further issues related with dioxin
emissions from its plants.
Montenegro's studies show that the cement kiln dust particles transmit
poisonous substances like barium, cadmium and mercury into the ground
and enter the food chain through agricultural products, leading to
- Locally certified laboratories regularly perform soil monitoring
studies in all Holcim Argentina’s plants.
- The values obtained are below national legal limits.
- Trace elements like heavy metals are constituents of the raw
materials for cement manufacturing, occurring in a wide range. These
elements can, of course, be found in the kiln dust. Thus Holcim
requires all operations to minimize and continuously monitor dust
emissions in order to keep them below the respective limit values.
- Particularly leachable and volatile heavy metals are already
controlled at the input to the kiln process to prevent enrichment.
In particular batteries, as mentioned in the MultiWatch study, are
banned from any use in the kiln by the Holcim directive on
alternative fuels and raw materials (AFR).
- Pollution studies in the vicinity of cement plants have
monitored the emission of heavy metals but there is no indication of
enrichment exceeding the respective limit values.
Reference is made to studies from China which compare water channels
made with cement produced with and without co-processing. The former
showed higher concentration of heavy metals than the latter.
- In order to investigate potential exposure to heavy metals there
have been several independent and published studies* focusing on
leaching of heavy metals from cement bound drinking water
- They all show that there is no influence from the total content
of heavy metals to their leaching behavior.
- All tested cements were suitable for drinking water applications
regardless whether they were made with or without utilization of
waste derived fuels.
* ECRICEM studies by EU Commission