Please do all you can to help to stop plans for the building of a privately run incinerator to burn our waste. Stop the ‘South London Waste Partnership’ becoming a licence to burn away our health, the health of our children and any hopes for a sustainable future. Visit www.stoptheincinerator.co.uk for more info.
Four South London Boroughs are being targetted – Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton. The incineration of household waste:
Depresses recycling and wastes resources
Releases greenhouse gasses
Is often forced through against strong public opposition
Relies on exaggerating future quantities of waste instead of strongly increased recycling and composting
Creates toxic emissions and hazardous ash
Poses significant health risks
The conclusions from a report produced last year by the British Society for Ecological Medicine make truly disturbing reading…..
The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators
4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine June 2008
1) Incineration does not remove waste. It simply converts it into another form (gas, particulates, ash) and these new forms are typically more hazardous though less visible than in the original form.
2) Large epidemiological studies have shown higher rates of adult and childhood cancers and of birth defects around incinerators. Smaller studies and a large body of related research support these findings, point to a causal relationship, and suggest that a much wider range of illnesses may be involved.
3) Recent research has confirmed that particulate pollution, especially the fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution, which is typical of incinerator emissions, is an mportant contributor to heart disease, lung cancer, and an assortment of other diseases, and causes a linear increase in mortality. The latest research has ound there is a much greater effect on mortality than previously thought and implies that incinerators will cause increases in cardiovascular and cerebrovascular morbidity and mortality with both short-term and long-term exposure. Particulates from incinerators will be especially hazardous due to the toxic chemicals attached to them.
4) Other pollutants emitted by incinerators include heavy metals and a large variety of organic chemicals. These substances include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and substances that can attach to genes, alter behaviour, damage the immune system and decrease intelligence. There appears to be no thresholdfor some of these effects, such as endocrine disruption. The dangers of these are self-evident. Some of these compounds have been detected hundreds to thousands of miles away from their source.
5) The danger of incinerating radioactive waste deserves special mention. Incineration converts radioactive waste into billions of radioactive particulates. These particulates make a near perfect delivery system for introducing the radioactive matter into the human body, where it can then act as an internal emitter of alpha or beta radiation. This type of radiation is qualitatively different, far more dangerous and far more sinister, than background radiation. There can be no justification for using this method of dealing with radioactive waste.
6) Modern incinerators produce fly ash which is much more toxic than in the past, containing large quantities of dioxin-rich material for which there is no safe method of disposal, except vitrification, a method not being used in the UK. Disposal of incinerator ash to landfill sites is associated with long-term threats to aquifers and water tables and the potential for accidents serious enough to require evacuation of an area.
7) The risks to local people that occur when incinerators operate under non- standard working conditions have not been addressed, particularly the emissions at start-up and shutdown which may be associated with the release, within 2 days, of more dioxin than over 6 months of working under standard conditions.
The greatest concern is the long-term effects of incinerator emissions on the developing embryo and infant, and the real possibility that genetic changes will occur and be passed on to succeeding generations. Far greater vulnerability to toxins has been documented for the very young, particularly foetuses, with risks of cancer, spontaneous abortion, birth defects or permanent cognitive damage. A worryingly high body burden of pollutants has recently been reported in two studies of cord blood from new-born babies.
9) Waste incineration is prohibitively expensive when health costs are taken into account. A variety of studies, including that from the government, indicate that a single large incinerator could cost the tax payer many million of pounds per annum in health costs. Put simply, the government’s own data is demonstrating that incinerators are a major health hazard. With the predicted inclusion of the waste industry within the EU European Emissions Trading Scheme, local taxpayers, in areas with incinerators, will not only have to live within a polluted area but will be saddled with costs, under ETS, of millions of pounds per annum to pay for it.
10) Waste incineration is unjust because its maximum toxic impact is on the most vulnerable members of our society, the unborn child, children, the poor and the chemically sensitive. It contravenes the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the European Human Rights Convention (the Right to Life), and the Stockholm Convention, and violates the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 which states that the UK must prevent emissions from harming human health.