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28 Oct 2009 Publication of report on waste incineration and human health effects

HPS and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have jointly published a report on incineration and reported human health effects. The report considers the evidence relating to the incineration of all forms of waste (hazardous, clinical and industrial, as well as municipal waste, which is the largest component of incinerated waste) and reported adverse health outcomes.

The topic is complex and has been studied over decades using various epidemiological and other methodologies. There has been a heavy reliance on ‘ecological’ type epidemiological studies, the proximity of home residence of individuals being often used as a proxy for exposure to airborne incinerator emissions, as a substitute for measuring actual exposure to airborne contamination. The reliance on such proxy measures puts limitations on the research findings, which therefore require careful interpretation. Much of the research was carried out in Europe and elsewhere during periods where airborne incinerator emission standards were less strict than is now the case in the UK.