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Health Effects of Waste Incinerators

Incineration does not destroy waste – it merely converts it to other forms, such as: stack gases, minute dust particles, and ash. All these contain pollutants that are harmful to our health. That is why they are regulated.

Emissions from incinerators include: dioxins, PCBs, heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, etc.). All of these are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.

Dioxins and PCBs are toxic chemicals that can have severe health effects, especially on the
developing foetus and young children. Known health effects include: cancer, impairment of the immune, hormonal, and reproductive systems, congenital abnormalities, delayed cognitive and motor development in children, disruption of critical stages of embryonic development. (Source: WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer).

The fallout zone for incinerator emissions extends to a radius of 30-40 miles. But by far the
greatest risk of exposure to dioxin is through the food we eat. Dioxin from incinerator emissions settles on vegetation, in soil, and in the oceans, and so enters the food chain.

CHASE Newsletter (May 2005) - Health Issue
Summarizes medical evidence presented at EPA Oral Hearing.

The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators
4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine (Dec. 2005) concludes that no new waste incinerators should be built. "Incinerators are in reality particulate generators, and their use cannot be justified now that it is clear how toxic and carcinogenic fine particulates are."

WHO Fact Sheet - Particulate matter air pollution: how it harms health (pdf)
Emissions from incinerators include fine particulates [dust]. This fact sheet outlines the harmful health effects of these particulates.

Human health impact of the proposed waste incinerators at Ringaskiddy
A critique of the health assessment in the EIS submitted with the waste licence application. Presented at EPA Oral Hearing by Dr. Anthony Staines, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, UCD.

How Pollutants Affect Health - Early Dioxin Exposure in Children
Paper by Dr. Gavin ten Tusscher (Paediatrician), 2004

Health and Environmental Effects of Landfilling and Incineration of Waste – A Literature Review (Health Research Board)
Summary of research and development needs identified in this report. Click here for full report.

Incineration and human health - State of Knowledge of the Impacts of Waste Incinerators on Human Health (pdf)
Michelle Allsopp, Pat Costner and Paul Johnston. Greenpeace Research Laboratorie. 2001

Dioxins and their Effect on Human Health - WHO Fact Sheet


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
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