Lethal fall-out from waste incinerators lethal toxin

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The Independent Online
About one kilogram a year of dioxins, one of the most dangerous pollutants known to science, are emitted in Britain each year according to a new estimate by the Government's pollution inspectorate.

Municipal waste incinerators, burning household garbage, are responsible for a large proportion of the total, the inspectorate says in a report published yesterday. It estimates their total emissions at between 460 and 580 grams.

Most of these incinerators were built more than 20 years ago and by the end of next year they will have to meet more stringent emission controls - emitting only one billionth of a gram of dioxins in each cubic metre of exhaust from their chimneys.

Once they have met these requirements or closed down, the dioxin coming from garbage incinerators should fall to less than one-twentieth of today's levels, the report says. Britain's total annual emissions will fall by about two-thirds.

Once released into the environment, dioxins break down extremely slowly under natural processes and they can accumulate in fatty tissues. Studies on animals have shown the chemicals to have a wide range of toxic effects at very low concentrations, causing cancers and interfering with the immune, reproductive and hormonal systems.

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