emphasized that these risk assessments were performed to evaluate the risks to the local population; workers's risks were generally not evaluated, nor was the regional impact considered, and not all facilities have been assessed for risk. Experience with them indicates that:

  • For modern, well-controlled incinerators, risk estimates for cancer effects even for the most-highly exposed persons (not workers), are generally small to negligible (for example, lifetime cancer risk estimates below 1 in 100,000).

  • At least some older, poorly controlled incinerators—had they continued to operate—would likely have resulted in cancer risk (above 1 in 10,000 lifetime risk).

  • The principal contributors to risk estimates tend to be dioxins and furans (through food chain routes), arsenic, HCl, mercury, lead, and particles.

  • Experience in performing such assessments is extremely important, particularly if new chemicals are inserted into models not designed for them.

Risk assessments have as one of their bases an evaluation of the health effects observed for the materials examined in risk assessment. A fundamental tenet of risk assessment is the ability to perform extrapolations, including extrapolations of dose-response results for health effects observed at different concentrations, in differing exposure circumstances, and even in different species. It is considered, however, that uncertainty is minimized by using the minimum amount of extrapolation possible. The examples in the following section were chosen to illustrate the ranges of data available for the various chemicals.

Observed Health Effects of Materials Present in Incineration Emissions

This section summarizes, for selected pollutants of concern, the adverse health effects that have been documented in humans and animals. These pollutants are known to be produced and released into the environment during the operation of various waste incinerators. The chemicals selected for discussion in this section are particulate matter, CO, acidic gases (NOx, SO2, and HCl) and acidic particles, (e.g., as H2SO4 or NH2HSO4), some metals (cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and beryllium), and organic compounds—dioxins and furans and some other products of incomplete combustion (PCBs and PAHs). Human health effects have been observed for some of these agents at extremely high concentrations in various exposure circumstances; but such effects have not been observed as a direct result of exposure to emissions from a waste incinerator (as demonstrated in the following sections). PM health effects can apparently occur at concentrations previously considered acceptable. For lead, health effects occur at blood concentrations that are not far above background blood



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