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The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators

A report moderated by J Thompson and HM Anthony

Free download here.

Both the amount of waste and its potential toxicity are increasing. Available landfill sites are being used up, and incineration is being seen increasingly as a solution to the waste problem. This report examines the literature concerning the health effects of incinerators.

You can read the original report in full here.

Surrey County Council Surrey County Council have published an evaluation of the report by Enviros Consulting Ltd. You can read it here.

You can read the BSEM’s response to this evaluation here.

Enviros published an updated version of this evaluation. You can read it here.

You can read the BSEM’s response to this updated evaluation here.

The Health Protection Agency have published comments about the report. You can read them here.

You can read the BSEM’s response to The Health Protection Agency’s comments here.


Executive summary

1. Introduction

2. Emissions from incinerators and other combustion sources

  • 2.1 Particulates 
  • 2.2 Heavy metals 
  • 2.3 Nitrogen oxides 
  • 2.4 Organic pollutants 

3. Health effects of pollutants

  • 3.1 Particulates
  • 3.2 Heavy metals
  • 3.3 Nitrogen oxides and ozone
  • 3.4 Organic toxicants
  • 3.5 Effects on genetic material
  • 3.6 Effects on the immune system
  • 3.7 Synergistic effects

4. Increased morbidity and mortality near incinerators

  • 4.1 Cancer
  • 4.2 Birth defects
  • 4.3 Ischemic heart disease
  • 4.4 Comment

5. Disease incidence and pollution

  • 5.1 Cancer
  • 5.2 Neurological disease
  • 5.3 Mental diseases
  • 5.4 Violence and crime

6. High-risk groups

  • 6.1The foetus
  • 6.2 The breast-fed infant
  • 6.3 Children
  • 6.4 The chemically sensitive

7. Past mistakes and the precautionary principle

  • 7.1 The precautionary principle
  • 7.2 Learning from past mistakes

8. Alternative waste technologies

  • 8.1 Mechanical biological treatment
  • 8.2 Gasification methods
  • 8.3 Recycling

9. Other considerations of importance

  • 9.1 The costs of incineration
  • 9.2 The problem of ash
  • 9.3 Radioactivity
  • 9.4 Spread of pollutants

10. Cement kilns

11. Monitoring

12. Risk assessment

13. Public rights and international treaties

14. Conclusions

15. Recommendations


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