Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Incinerators double childhood cancer | Greenpeace UK
Incinerators double childhood cancer
no incineration

Between 1974 and 1987, twice as many children who lived within 5km of
incinerators in the UK died from cancer, compared to those who lived
further away, according to new research published in the International
Journal of Epidemiology.(1)

The study comes on top of others which have found significant increases
in cancers, of both adults and children, around incinerators(2) (3).
However, because incinerators are often sited in industrial or deprived
areas, scientists have been unable to say for sure that it is the toxins
from burning mixed waste that are causing these extra cancers. Other
industrial pollution or lifestyle factors, such as a poor diet, could be
to blame, they say.

But the latest study found that there was no increase in cancer around
“non-combustion” sites such as football grounds and biscuit makers. This
appears to rule out social factors such as diet. Cancers around hospital
incinerators were at similar levels to those around municipal waste
incinerators, indicating that incineration could be the common cause.
This led the author of the report, Professor George Knox of Birmingham
University, to conclude that while nearby sources of industrial
pollution might also contribute, the incinerators were “probably

The study was based on detailed examination of childhood deaths from
cancer around 72 municipal and 307 hospital waste incinerators. Most of
the incinerators studied have now been closed and those that remain are
subject to tighter controls. However, even the most modern incinerators
emit substances known to cause cancer as well as heavy metals and
ultra-fine dust particles which can have a range of other health
effects. Despite this the Government continues to insist on building new

(1) International Journal of Epidemiology, 2000; 29:391-397 (2) Elliot
P, Shaddick G, Kleinschmidt I et al Cancer incidence near municipal
solid waste incinerators in Great Britain, British Journal of Cancer
1996; 73:702-10 (3) Elliot p, Eaton N, Shaddick G, Carter R, Cancer
incidence near municipal solid waste incinerators in Great Britain. Part
2:histopathological and case-note review of primary liver cancer cases,
British Journal of Cancer 2000, 82(5), 1103-1106

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *