CO2 capture by means of amines is considered to be the most appropriate method to quickly begin with CO2 removal. During this capture process, some of the amines escaping the recycling process will be emitted into the air and will also form other compounds such as nitrosamines and nitramines. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) was commissioned by the Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif) to assess whether these new emissions are harmful to health – particularly in terms of the cancer risk to the general population. The results of the risk assessments were submitted today.
These amines by themselves are not very harmful at typical concentrations that might occur, for example, near power plants. However, the amines could take part in complex chemical reactions and form new compounds such as nitrosamines and nitramines, which can affect health and the environment.There is relatively little knowledge about the various health effects for many of these compounds, but it is known that several of them can be highly carcinogenic. The cancer risk ultimately depends on how much is formed, how much is released, how much is decomposed in the atmosphere by light and how strong the cancer-causing substances are.
The NIPH has assessed the cancer-causing ability of compounds that can be formed in connection with CO2capture. Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) was found to be one of those that may be the most carcinogenic. Therefore, this compound is used to calculate the risk from the total amount of various nitrosamines in the air. (Norwegian Institute of Public Health)
In truth we are not particularly fussed over hypothetical carcinogens involved in carbon capture and storage – we just happen to know it’s about the worst idea in captivity!