Estimating Particulate Exposure from Modern Municipal Waste Incinerators in Great Britain

Philippa Douglas, Anna Freni-Sterrantino, Maria Leal Sanchez, Danielle C. Ashworth, Rebecca E. Ghosh, Daniela Fecht, Anna Font, Marta Blangiardo, John Gulliver, Mireille B. Toledano, Paul Elliott, Kees De Hoogh, Gary W. Fuller, Anna L. Hansell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Municipal Waste Incineration (MWI) is regulated through the European Union Directive on Industrial Emissions (IED), but there is ongoing public concern regarding potential hazards to health. Using dispersion modeling, we estimated spatial variability in PM10 concentrations arising from MWIs at postcodes (average 12 households) within 10 km of MWIs in Great Britain (GB) in 2003-2010. We also investigated change points in PM10 emissions in relation to introduction of EU Waste Incineration Directive (EU-WID) (subsequently transposed into IED) and correlations of PM10 with SO2, NOx, heavy metals, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/furan (PCDD/F), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) emissions. Yearly average modeled PM10 concentrations were 1.00 × 10-5 to 5.53 × 10-2 μg m-3, a small contribution to ambient background levels which were typically 6.59-2.68 × 101 μg m-3, 3-5 orders of magnitude higher. While low, concentration surfaces are likely to represent a spatial proxy of other relevant pollutants. There were statistically significant correlations between PM10 and heavy metal compounds (other heavy metals (r = 0.43, p = <0.001)), PAHs (r = 0.20, p = 0.050), and PCBs (r = 0.19, p = 0.022). No clear change points were detected following EU-WID implementation, possibly as incinerators were operating to EU-WID standards before the implementation date. Results will be used in an epidemiological analysis examining potential associations between MWIs and health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7511-7519
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study is funded by a grant from Public Health England (PHE), by a grant from the Scottish government, funding from the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, and funding from the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards at King's College London and Imperial College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE). The work of the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit is funded by Public Health England as part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, funded also by the UK Medical Research Council (MR/L01341X/1). D.C.A. was funded by a MRC Ph.D. studentship. P.E. is Director of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health and acknowledges support from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London. This work used the computing resources of the UK MEDical BIOinformatics partnership - aggregation, integration, visualisation, and analysis of large, complex data (UK MEDBIO) which is supported by the Medical Research Council (MR/L01632X/1). We thank the Environment Agency (EA), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for the incinerator emissions data and for their technical input. We would also like to thank the study scientific advisory committee for their valuable comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


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