Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

SCMP Letters: Citizens support waste-cutting, opposed to incineration

Incinerator will pose risk to residents

from Massimo Massarola, Lantau

Studies have shown higher rates of adult and childhood cancer and also birth defects around municipal waste incinerators. The results are consistent with the associations being causal.

Incinerator emissions are a major source of fine particulate, of toxic metals and of more than 200 organic chemicals, including known carcinogens, mutagens and hormone disrupters. Emissions also contain other unidentified compounds whose potential for harm is as yet unknown, as was once the case with dioxins.

Since the nature of waste is continually changing, so is the chemical nature of the incinerator emissions and therefore the potential for adverse health effects. Incinerators produce bottom and fly ash, which amounts to 30 to 50 per cent by volume of the original waste (if compacted), and require transporting to landfill sites.

Abatement equipment in modern incinerators merely transfers the toxic load, notably that of dioxins and heavy metals, from airborne emissions to the fly ash.

This fly ash is light, readily windborne and mostly of low particle size. It represents a considerable and poorly understood health hazard. Two large cohort studies in America have shown that fine (PM2.5) particulate air pollution causes increases in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality and mortality from lung cancer, after adjustment for other factors.

A more recent, well-designed study of morbidity and mortality in postmeno-pausal women has confirmed this, showing a 76 per cent increase in cardiovascular and 83 per cent increase in cerebrovascular mortality in women exposed to higher levels of fine particulate.

The fine particles are primarily produced by combustion processes and are emitted in large quantities by incinerators.

We need to support zero-waste alternatives such as waste reduction, product reuse, recycling and composting, and oppose the planned waste incinerator in Hong Kong.

Cut waste with far better recycling

from Chan Wing-ki, Ngau Tau Kok

There has been strong opposition to the government’s proposal to expand our landfills, which are nearing capacity.

Residents living near the landfills are concerned because of the odour caused by the waste. Other people are against the expansion proposals because they will encroach on country parks.

Another proposal is to build an incinerator. If this option is chosen, I hope the government will give careful consideration to the site and have a thorough public consultation.

The most effective way to deal with this problem is to reduce the volume of municipal solid waste generated. The administration should be putting more resources into the recycling industry.

11 Dec 2013

Leave a Reply

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