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Research from Incinerator reveals a toxic environment

Research from Incinerator reveals a toxic environment

Dieter Schtz,

To assess the true impact on waste incineration, the biomonitoring study by ToxicoWatch foundation for ZWE examined the presence of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), around incinerators located in Valdemingmez in Spain, Pilsen in Czechia, and Kaunas in Lithuania.

Bioassays are an analytical method that determines the concentration or potency a substance through its effects on living animals, plants and living cells. This particular study used carefully collected biomarker samples – such as eggs of backyard chickens, pine needles, and mosses – in areas around incinerators.

The research revealed that:

  • The EU Directive 2013/711/EU regulates that the EU action limits for food safe have been exceeded by the majority of the eggs analysed.
  • A high number of eggs are unsafe to eat. These eggs should have been withdrawn if they were intended to be sold on the commercial markets.
  • Analyses of vegetation, pine needles, moses, and other materials revealed high levels dioxins around the waste incinerators. This means that people living in the vicinity could be affected if they eat vegetables grown from contaminated soil.

    The research highlights the incompatibility between the EU’s zero pollution agenda and the current incineration heavy strategy. It also warns about the potential health effects of the current incineration strategy. It also gives a warning signal for contamination of the environment with highly harmful toxic substances for human health and the environment – such as dioxins (PCDD/F), dioxin-like PCBs, PAHs, and PFAS.

Janek Vhk, ZWEs Climate, Energy, and Air Pollution Programme Co-ordinator, said that there is a need to assess the impact of waste burning on the environment and human health. People living near waste incinerators must be assured about their safety and the health risks.

Based on the report’s conclusions, ZWE (and the research project group) strongly recommend that you:

  • For all incineration projects throughout Europe, make biomonitoring mandatory
  • Mandate continuous measurement of chlorinated and brominated dioxins including under the “other than normal operating conditions” such as start-ups and shut-downs and technical accidents.
  • Place a moratorium in place on the development of new waste incineration plants and create phase-out plans to eliminate those that are already in operation.
  • Promote and fund sustainable, healthy alternatives to incineration.

Read the full The True Toxic Toll – Biomonitoring of waste incinerator emissions reports.

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Source: Zero Waste Europe

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