Herts. WithOut Waste (HertsWOW)

Recycling and composting not disposal


Public Health England's Incinerator Health Study

Posted by hertswow on April 1, 2017 at 3:35 PM


We have looked at all of the items that are in the public domain: official statements, research articles in previous years and the PhD thesis published in Sept. 2016. These are the interim products of a large, lengthy programme that has (after 7 years, or 5 since it was announced) only reached a 'preliminary stage'. That is claimed to be mainly due to the complexity of the research problem and the difficulties in tracing emissions to any particular incinerator, especially when there are several or many sources. On the other hand, the scope has been narrowed to focus primarily on women during pregnancy and on birth statistics.

The early papers identified a range of methodological issues. Several of these were addressed and solutions piloted, albeit with reservations, during the period of the thesis. This drew upon, interacted with and was designed to provide support to various related research projects in which over 22 researchers were engaged. The thesis provided several kinds of valuable results and is the basis for modelling of human exposure and epidemiology of residents living around each of 22 incinerator facilities in the UK that were being operated during some or all of 2003-2007 under Waste Incineration Directive requirements.

We expect that results from that set of models and other findings are what is now in the peer review process. Whether those will be published during 2017 seems doubtful, yet we would welcome them so long as they reflect the scientific findings and not been re-shaped via PHE, the EA and industry lobby groups so as to allow the PHE to carry on asserting that "well run and regulated modern municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health remains valid." [PHE by email, 14th March 2014]

We are now urging that in view of what is emerging from the research, this guidance be replaced by a statement on a precautionary basis. 

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