Landfill sites investigation shows no ‘significant’ public health risk

Well managed landfill sites do not pose a significant risk to public health, but more research needs to be carried out into closed landfills, according to new research from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

The HPA has studied data looking at emissions from various sites and research on health effects posed by modern landfill sites. It has concluded there is little cause for concern for those living nearby.

However the agency says that more work needs to done to investigate the potential health impacts of emissions from closed landfill sites and improving exposure assessments around landfill sites in general.

The new report from the HPA’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical & Environmental Hazards takes into account the latest advice from the independent Committee on Toxicity. Health risk advice regarding landfills was published by Defra back in 2004 and the new evidence reviewed by HPA does not change the findings of that research.

HPA’s Andrew Kibble, a specialist in environmental public health, said: “Over the years some sites have generated public concern about the possibility of health effects, such as birth defects and cancer, from their emissions.

“The HPA takes such concerns seriously and our report considers published epidemiological studies on possible links between landfill emissions and health effects.

“We asked the Committee on Toxicity to review the results of levels of chemicals found at the boundaries of a number of landfill sites in a detailed monitoring programme commissioned by the Environment Agency, as well as epidemiological studies.

“The committee concluded that there were no significant health concerns in relation to any findings.”

Maxine Perella

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