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Modern landfill sites pose no 'significant risk' to locals

Well-managed landfill sites do not pose “a significant risk” to human health, a report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has found.

After analysis of toxicology results taken at the boundaries of modern landfill sites by the Environment Agency (EA), the independent expert Committee on Toxicity (COT) has found that people living near to a well-run landfill site should not be concerned for their health.

The document, Impact on Health of Emissions from Landfill Sites, confirms Defra’s findings in a report published in 2004 which concluded that “there was no consistent evidence that people living close to landfill sites suffered worse health than people living further away from such sites”.

HPA specialist in environmental public health and head of the HPA’s Birmingham chemicals unit Andrew Kibble said: “Over the years, some sites have generated public concern about the possibility of health effects, such as birth defects and cancer, from their emissions.

“The HPA has concluded, based on the current information on landfill sites, the available epidemiology, the EA’s monitoring results and the COT’s advice, that a well-managed site does not pose a significant risk to human health.”

The HPA is keen to see more research carried out on closed landfill sites because data considered in this latest report has been taken from active sites. It says other research should stretch to different types of landfill sites, because data measurements change according to the composition of waste, age and design of the site and its location; more sensitive ways of measuring the pollutants; and more complete toxicological data.

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