Results from a trial testing new and experimental dioxin sampling technology were published by the Environment Agency (EA) yesterday.
The research was conducted at the Eastcroft municipal waste incinerator in Nottingham and the Lafarge cement kiln at Cauldron, Staffordshire.
Some of the results from the incinerator’s continuous sampling appeared higher than the results from the existing sampling required by the EU incineration directive.
But Environment Agency director of environmental protection Tricia Henton defended the findings. She said: “This new technology could provide us with useful information about dioxin emissions in the future but these results are inconclusive, and we will be conducting further work to understand more about them and whether they are accurate or not.”
Henton emphasised that the level of dioxins emitted by incinerators and cement kilns were so small they were difficult to test for.
“We are talking about levels that are less than one tenth of a thousandth of a millionth of a gram. As a result, the smallest change to the conditions of the test can have a huge impact on the findings,” she said.
According to the EA the total amount of dioxins emitted by municipal waste incinerators in England and Wales in 2004 was 2g – less than 2% of all dioxins emitted nationally.