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WASTE INCINERATION & PUBLIC HEALTH
Deml et al. (1996) measured dioxins and furans in blood and human milk of persons living in the vicinity of a municipal solid-waste incinerator in Germany. The facility had been in operation for 13 years and combusted 350,000 tons of waste per year. Blood samples were obtained for 43 persons who had been living in the study area for at least 10 years and 3 persons who had lived there for 8 years. The dioxin and furan concentrations in blood for the study group ranged from 3-19 picograms/gram (TEQ), compared to a control-group concentration of 10-48 pg/g (TEQ). Similar results were found for dioxins and furans in mother's milk. These authors concluded that living in the vicinity of this facility does not result in a higher body burden for dioxins and furans. Based on previous discussions in this report about the emissions of individual incinerators, such a finding is not surprising.
Kurttio et al. (1998) studied concentrations of mercury in hair of people in the proximity of a hazardous-waste-treatment plant that contains an incinerator. A baseline survey of the surrounding population and environment was conducted prior to the plant's operation in 1984; ten years later, investigators studied the same subjects. In 1984 and 1994, the median hair mercury concentrations were 0.5 mg/kg and 0.8 mg/kg, respectively. The researchers concluded that mercury exposure increased as distance from the facility decreased; however, the increase in exposure was minimal and, on the basis of current knowledge, did not pose a health risk.
Bache et al. (1991) analyzed metals and PCBs in vegetation around an incinerator operating without air-pollution controls. The results showed that, of six metals and PCBs considered, only lead was statistically significantly higher than background. The mean of 9 upwind samples for lead was 2.1 mg/kg of vegetation with a standard deviation of 1.2 mg/kg. The downwind sample values depended on distance from the stack. The closest sample was 30 mg/kg. Samples declined to a value that was within the 95% confidence interval of the background data at a distance of 650 meters from the stack. However, Carpi et al. (1994) found increased concentrations of mercury (206 parts-per-billion (ppb), compared with a control value of 126 ppb) in sphagnum moss within 1.6 km of a municipal solid-waste incinerator in New Jersey.
Collett et al. (1998) analyzed levels of cadmium and lead in air and surface-soil samples collected in an area around the Baldovie municipal-waste incinerator in Scotland. They reported that the spatial distribution of lead levels in soils showed a marked variation downwind from the Baldovie incinerator in comparison with the background level for the area. However, the lead levels remained well within the typical range of lead in rural, unpolluted, British soils. The authors compared the observed levels of lead in local soils with the predicted downwind long-term ground-level lead distribution in air and found that atmospheric emissions of lead originating from the Baldovie incinerator directly determine concentrations of lead in soils within a radius of 5 km of the incinerator. However, in the case of cadmium, the authors found neither a marked nor exten-