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Residence Near a Municipal Solid Waste Incinerator and Cancer Risk: an Analysis Using a Geographic Information System (GIS)

Marcilio, I; Lopes, M; Prado, R; Souza, M; Gouveia, N


Recent studies have evaluated possible health effects of emissions from solid waste incinerators (SWI). Most of these studies have used the spatial distribution of incinerators and health endpoints to analyse exposure and risk. Lung and liver cancers has shown as the ones with the strongest associations with proximity to SWI. The emissions of the incinerator under investigation included lead, arsenic, dioxin and cadmium. The latter two are considered carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Although this incinerator is located in a densely populated area, there has been no study evaluating the impact of its emission on environmental quality and on health of the population living in its vicinity. This study intends to examine health effects possibly associated with emissions from this SWI among the local population through an epidemiologic investigation using spatial analysis.

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All liver and lung cancer deaths (ICD-10 C22.0; C22.7; C22.9 and ICD-10 C34.0 – C34.9) from 1998 to 2002 among people aged 40 years and older in an area around the SWI were included. All deaths were geocoded using MapInfo 7.8 ®. Deahts were separated in 3 groups, according to their spacial distribution: the reference group comprised those located within a radius of 2km around the incinerator, while comparison groups were within 5 and 7km around it. Age-adjusted mortality rates in each area were calculated, taking into account the respective area population. The Stone test was used to check if differences among rates were statistically significant.

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The area studied included 543.054 people aged 40 years and older. Data about population distribution and number of cancer deaths are presented in Table 01. People living closer to the SWI had a higher risk of dying from lung cancer, and the observed difference was statistically significant, with a Stone test of 1,14 (p=0,04). A gradient was also noted for liver cancer deaths, but the difference was not statistically significant (p=0,07). (Table 02)

Table 1

Table 1


These findings suggests a higher risk of death from lung and liver cancer in the proximity of a municipal solid waste incinerator, with a statistically significant association with lung cancer.

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