concentrations of 0.5-1.5% are typical; in those who smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, 5-6% is typical. COHb in newborns of smoking mothers is 1.1-4.3%. A blood COHb concentration of about 5% would be expected after an exposure to CO at 35 ppm for 6-8 hr (Ellenhorn and Barceloux 1988).

COHb of 2-4% has been associated with a decrease in time to myocardial ischemia and angina (Allred et al. 1989), and 2.9% has led to significant reduction in exercise tolerance and onset of angina (Kleinman et al. 1989). Furthermore, tunnel officers who were exposed to CO and who had COHb over 5% had an increased risk of dying from arteriosclerotic heart disease (Stern et al. 1988). Recently, Morris et al. (1995) reported that an increase of 10 ppm in CO in ambient air pollution was associated with a 10-37% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for congestive heart failure among those over 65.

Fetal hemoglobin has a greater affinity for CO than does adult hemoglobin; fetal COHb concentrations are typically 10-15% higher than maternal concentrations. Maternal exposure to CO at 30 ppm will lead to 5% COHb in the mother and 6% COHb in the fetus. Both the mother and the fetus are also more susceptible during pregnancy. CO has been shown to interfere with pregnancy in rats; although control rats had 100% successful pregnancy, the success rate for those exposed to CO at 30 ppm was only 69% (COHb was 4.8%), and for those exposed at 90 ppm, only 38% (Garvey and Longo 1978).

Fetuses, newborns, and pregnant women are especially susceptible to CO. Other high-risk groups include those with pre-existing heart disease and those over 65 years old (Morris et al. 1995). Hemoglobin reaches equilibrium with CO much more rapidly in people with anemia than in normal subjects; thus, a 4-hr exposure to CO at 20 ppm led to a COHb concentration of 4-5% in anemic subjects, but only 2.5% in normal subjects. Overall, CO from incinerators is not considered to be an important health factor (see discussion of “Implications to Human Health”).


Metals associated with incinerator emissions include cadmium, lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and beryllium. Results of human and animal studies that examined the health effects of these metals are discussed below. It should be noted that for many of the health effects of concern, exposures are uncertain or unknown and are related not to incinerators but rather to occupational studies or case reports of accidental spills or releases.


The various inorganic forms of cadmium investigated to date have shown similar toxic effects (ATSDR 1997a). All soluble cadmium compounds are cumulative toxicants. Inhalation studies of cadmium-containing aerosols have

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