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Study clears incinerators of pollution concerns

Scientists have found no evidence of the harmful emission of metals from most incinerators used in a study for Public Health England.

They sought to ‘fingerprint’ incinerator emissions of nine heavy metals.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which contributed to the study, said researchers analysed stack emissions data from municipal waste incinerators for concentrations of these metals from 2003-10.

It said they found no evidence of incinerator emissions at sampling sites within the vicinity of four incinerators, while for the remaining two emissions were found to be very low. The researchers concluded that the six installations studied contributed little to harmful ambient PM10 particulate concentrations.

The study has been published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Industry figures welcomed the findings.

FCC Environment communication director Kristian Dales said: “We believe it is important to recognise the contribution that energy-from-waste plants make to the UK’s energy mix by reducing non-recyclable waste sent to landfill and helping to reduce reliance on coal and gas imports.”

Veolia UK & Ireland technical director Richard Kirkman added: “This independent research by Public Health England is another positive confirmation that this technology is demonstrably safe.” 

Readers' comments (1)

  • Note the use of the word 'most' (not 'all') in the statement "Scientists have found no evidence of the harmful emission of metals from most incinerators used in a study for Public Health England". In other words scientists have found evidence of the harmful emission of metals from some of the incinerators used in a study for Public Health England.

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