Following a number of planning applications for new energy from waste (EfW) facilities in London, the Greater London Authority commissioned AQC to carry out a review into the potential health effects of emissions associated with municipal waste incineration facilities and the impact of their emissions on Londoners.
The first part of the study was carried out in association with the Institute of Occupational Medicine, involving a detailed literature review of the health effects associated with EfW and Municipal Solid Waste Incinerators. The review concluded that modern, well-run facilities were unlikely to pose a significant risk to human health.
The second part of the study, led by AQC, quantified the health effects associated with emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter from five facilities in Greater London using dispersion modelling. Emissions data was derived from on-site measurements reported to the Environment Agency, where available, which were combined with established risk factors for mortality and hospital admissions and demographic information across London. By combining this data, it was possible to quantify the number of deaths brought forward and likely hospital admissions specifically associated with the NO2 and PM emissions from EfW facilities in London.
The study concluded that there was a clear east-west gradient in hospitalisations and mortality, with more than half of all mortality attributable to just nine London boroughs, primarily in the east. It provided evidence that while the health effects of EfW facilities are minimal in comparison to other sources of air pollution in London, such as road traffic and building emissions, additional EfW capacity in east London would likely increase the already elevated burden of health effects.
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