Incinerators: the lethal consequences of breathing fire
6th September, 2007
Despite the best efforts of the industry to rebrand and clean up incineration, the fact remains that today's incinerators still permit pollution.
Roughly 2 1/2 million tonnes of municipal waste are incinerated in the UK each year. More efficient filters make emissions look clearer, but just because you don’t see the pollution, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The same toxic chemical that were in out plastics, paper, textiles and wood when they went into the fire are still there during and after combustion. And their release into the air is still associated with a range of human health problems including cancer, reproductive problems and learning difficulties in children.
But the intense heat of incineration also helps create a whole range of new compounds with a completely unknown potential for toxicity. Indeed, the way that incineration changes the seen into the unseen and the known into the unknown is one of its most dangerous consequences.
Modern incinerators have measures in place to control the emissions they release into the atmosphere. These incinerators have to comply with tough standards set by European and UK legislation, which are designed to control acid emissions (using ‘scrubbers’. Devices that use a high-energy liquid spray to remove acid...
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