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Research clears incinerators of causing birth defects

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.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Firstly, this is a study on PM10 whereas studies suggest that health issues are predominantly caused by PM2.5 and below, particularly the micro fines below PM1.
    Secondly, it is surely stretching a point to suggest a study of a particular single issue can be applied to all other aspects of incinerator affects on health.
    As an example "Air Pollution and Mortality in the Medicare Population" by Di et al published in 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a clear linear relationship between PM2.5 and increased mortality (figure 3) even below the WHO limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, in a sample size of 60 million medicare recipiants. Ii is beyond dispute that incinerators are a contributor to the overall air pollution burden.

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  • See also which shows you shouldn't rely on one parameter, PM10, to assume that there are no health consequences for all the other potential pollutants. This SAHSU study should be evaluated in the context of other work in this area.

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  • Birth defects were NOT studied. Dioxin is a known cause
    How long will we have to wait for that study

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  • FYI a list of 'parameters' for dioxin contamination in babies
    *cleft palate
    *facial deformities
    *fingers and toes missing
    *heart defects
    *born with cancer
    *neural tube defects
    *born with convulsions
    Dioxins in pregnancy may affect the reproductive system of male infants. Exposure to dioxins during pregnancy is associated with endocrine-disrupting effects in male infants. Associated with male infertility in adulthood
    Legacy of dioxin in Vietnam and Corby, & worldwide, still ongoing

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