Air Pollution

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pursuant to his Answer of 16 January 2019 to Question 206215 pn Air Pollution, if he will direct Public Health England to make an assessment of the effect on respiratory and cardiovascular health of exposure to ultrafine particles (a) in and (b) outside the vicinity of waste incinerators.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the implications for his policies of the Fundació ENT study entitled Air Pollution from Waste Disposal: Not for Public Breath, published in November 2015, which concluded that the current design of the EU legal framework allows for emission limit values that face an unavoidable allocation of health and environmental risks to those citizens living nearby incineration and co-incineration activities.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Assessments of the risks of pollutants to health are informed by the weight of the available evidence, rather than being undertaken on the basis of an individual study.

Public Health England (PHE) funded a study to further extend the evidence base as to whether emissions from modern municipal waste incinerators (MWIs) affect human health. Study outputs concluded that the amount of particulate matter people are exposed to from municipal waste incinerators emissions is very low in Great Britain. The document can be viewed at the following link:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b06478

When consulted, PHE provides an expert and independent opinion to the regulator, the Environment Agency, on the potential impacts, including from particulate matter, on human health of emissions arising from existing or proposed regulated facilities, such as MWIs.

PHE’s position is that well run and regulated modern MWIs are not a significant risk to public health. This view is based on detailed assessments of the effects of air pollutants on health and on the fact that modern MWIs make a small contribution to local concentrations of air pollutants. This document can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/municipal-waste-incinerator-emissions-to-air-impact-on-health

PHE has no plans to engage in work on the effects of ultrafine particles on respiratory and cardiovascular disease in and outside the vicinity of waste incinerators.

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