Researchers have found no evidence that living near a properly-run waste incinerator is associated with birth defects.
The study by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit started two years ago and has been awaited by an industry keen to try to demonstrate that its activities do not harm health.
Its report found there was “no evidence for increased risk of a range of birth outcomes, including birth weight, preterm delivery and infant mortality”, in relation to either municipal waste incinerator emissions or to living near to one, if operating to the EU waste incinerator regulations.
Researchers made a national scale investigation of possible health effects associated with emissions of particulate matter ≤10µm – particles that can enter the lung – which they used as a proxy for emissions more generally.
They said they undertook the work because some studies had reported associations between incinerator exposures and birth problems, though few of these concerned modern installations running to current standards. The analysis examined just over one million births and 18,694 infant deaths.
Pressure group UK Without Incineration in September launched a report that claimed particulates from incinerators were emitted in higher quantities than were being recorded.