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Cover up claim as incinerator study postponed

Research into effects of waste incineration on human health will be postponed after data had to be ‘manually’ entered

A study aiming to establish whether there is a link between modern municipal waste incinerator emissions and health defects has been postponed until 2015, in what the Breathe Clean Air Group has labelled a government ‘cover-up’.

The research, which was due to be published in March 2014, was approved by the Health Protection Agency in January last year to extend the evidence base and provide further information to the public.

Breathe Clean Air Group said the delay in publishing the incinerator study constituted a government 'cover-up'

Breathe Clean Air Group said the delay in publishing the incinerator study constituted a government ‘cover-up’

The study involves examining areas of up to 15km around 22 incinerators across England, including Grundon’s Lakeside energy-from-waste facility, the SELCHP plant in Lewisham, the London Waste Edmonton incinerator and SITA UK’s Tees Valley plant in Billingham.

Scientists hope to determine if there is a potential link between incinerator emissions and health outcomes, such as low birth weight, still births and infant deaths.

In addition, a Dundee-based incinerator has also been included in the study, with working relating to the plant funded by a grant from the Scottish Government.

But Public Health England, which is funding King’s College London and Imperial College London to carry out the study, today revealed the preliminary results would not be available until 2015 due to the ‘unanticipated complexity in gathering data’ – caused by having to enter emissions data into an electronic format manually before statistical analysis could begin.


Commenting on the postponement, Pete Kilvert, chairman of the anti-incinerator Breathe Clean Air Group – said he feared the government would instruct the research teams to take ‘an average’ sample around each incinerator rather than look at the consequences on people living ‘downwind’ of each facility.

He said: “The Government is hell bent on burning the country’s waste and telling us that it won’t do us any harm. When waste such as plastics, metals and organic material are burnt at low temperatures, then new chemicals such as dioxins and heavy metals will settle out into our community.â€?

Public Health England today said it continues to stand by its position that well run and regulated municipal waste incinerators are not a significant risk to public health.

Commenting on the delay, Dr Simon Bouffler, deputy director of Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said: “It was originally envisaged that preliminary results for this study would be available by March 2014 but because of the unanticipated complexity in gathering data this has been delayed.

“A paper with preliminary results is now expected to be prepared for submission to a peer-reviewed journal around the end of 2014, with publication in 2015.â€?

He added: “Some of the data on emissions from MWIs were unexpectedly held in paper format rather than in electronic files, and had to be entered manually onto computer before the statistical analysis could begin. There was a delay while this process took place.â€?

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7 years ago

What, you mean put in ‘actual’ data, not estimates on made up economic equations, on constructed, variant reduced – hypothesis weighted, epidemiological comparisons? Shocking. I say good. Go science! Push off energy economic propaganda pretending to be.

Roger Taylor
Roger Taylor
7 years ago

So they scheduled publication for March 2014 without knowing that some of the data was on paper. Sounds more like unanticipated incompetence.
They really do think we are stupid, don’t they?


[…] article in air quality news hints at a cover up.  It may well be an attempt to give them more time to […]

Kenneth Rickard
Kenneth Rickard
7 years ago

This is no surprise as no doubt the Government is afraid of the results which may torpedo its support for burning our valuable resources. No true research has ever been published as very little has been carried out. Most statements are from Government quangos such as HPA now PHE and the Environment Agency who have no doubt guns at its head.

Hilda Dent
7 years ago

Dr Van Steenis, Prof. Vyvyan Howard, Dr Paul Connet, The documentary film, Trashed,…….. Prof.Philippe Grandjean have raised concerns about toxic pollutants in the air we breathe , the latter stating that coal, gasoline and garbage were suspect, along with many other compounds from other sources and that neurodevelopment of foetus and child were at risk especially, since their neurodevelopment programming follows certain periods ,early in development.

These concerns, should cause the cessation of incinerator building , until the current research into the incineration effects on health are collated.
So why do PHE and DEFRA still say incineration is a minimal risk to health.?

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
7 years ago

Those who claim that incinerator emissions don’t harm health are unable to explain why the previously falling infant mortality rates in the London Boroughs of Newham, Lewisham, and Tower Hamlets rose after the SELCHP incinerator started in 1993.


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