Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Incinerator studies delayed - again.

Research probes links with child mortality 
The publication dates of two major studies into unexpected deaths in infancy remain unclear. 
It is 14 years since Public Health England (PHE) first promised a study on the impact of municipal waste incinerators (MWI). Led by researchers at Imperial College London it eventually began in 2011. Preliminary results were envisaged in 2014 but in 2015 PHE announced they were likely to be released in early 2016. There was then a further delay. 
MWIs burn municipal solid waste, including hazardous substances, to convert it into ash, flue gas and heat to be used to generate electricity. Incineration causes emissions that may pollute the air, water and soil and have harmful impacts on the environment and animal health. 
The PHE study has examined 22 MWIs, including those at Bolton, Grimsby and Kirklees – districts
where infant mortality rates are higher than regional or national averages. 
In the second study, the Lullaby Trust, which aims to prevent unexpected infant deaths, funded Birmingham University in 2012 to research the role of ambient air pollution in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) mortality. The study’s initial findings in 2015 indicated “ambient air pollutants were associated with increased SIDS mortality”. 
Air pollution 
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that mortality rates are highest among groups in routine and manual occupations, indicating that deprivation is the main reason behind infant mortality. Other factors cited are poor parenting and cultural practices. But the results of both reports are eagerly awaited by Shrewsbury’s Michael Ryan, who first became concerned about air pollution when he lost two of his children, one at 14 weeks, and considered their deaths could be related to having lived downwind of an incinerator. 
When he examined London wards around MWIs he found that, even in affluent areas such as Chingford Green in Waltham Forest near the Edmonton incinerator, death rates were above average.
In Bolton five of the top six wards with the highest infant mortality rates border the incinerator in Great Lever. 
Ryan’s research is supported by a study in Japan in 2004, which found “a decline in risk from distance from MWIs for infant deaths”. 
Ryan’s research, reported by Big Issue North, was significant in forcing PHE into conducting its delayed study. 
In an almost exact repeat of its statement from last year, Dr Ovnair Sepai from PHE’s toxicology department said: “The unanticipated complexity in gathering data has delayed the project. It means that papers from the work will be submitted by SAHSU to peer reviewed journals in spring 2017. It is likely to be a few months after submission for the papers to be published.” 
He stressed that the PHE continues to believe that MWIs are not a significant risk to public health. 
Local campaigns 
Meanwhile, there has been no progress since last year when Lullaby Trust said its study has been submitted for publication to the Scientific Reports journal and if accepted “will be published online at some point this year”. 
A trust spokesperson said: “Once the research has been published we look forward to sharing it publicly.” 
The delay in the release of both reports comes when there are growing local campaigns against planned new incinerators. A public meeting in Sowerby Bridge last month, attended by both local MPs, drew a large crowd concerned about plans by Calder Valley Skip Hire to construct two incinerators. 
On the same day around 1,000 people marched in Keighley to oppose plans for an incinerator at Marley. Sarah Nash from Aire Valley Against Incineration, said: “This plan is completely unnecessary, inappropriately sited and damaging to the environment, health and the local economy. 
“There appears to be a complete lack of scrutiny. It seems that everything the developers present is accepted as fact whereas our well researched and evidenced arguments are dismissed as groundless. We are raising funds for a judicial review.” 
There is also cross-party support against a planned incinerator in Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. 

No comments:

Post a Comment