Waste dumps linked to greater risk of birth defects

WOMEN LIVING close to waste dumps face a third higher risk of giving birth to children with defects, The Lancet reports today.

A study that checked 21 landfill sites in five countries found there was a 33 per cent increase in birth defects such as spina bifida and holes in the heart when mothers lived within 3km (1.8 miles) of a site.

The researchers from London looked at 1,089 cases of children born with birth defects whose mothers had lived within 7km (4.2 miles) of a landfill site and matched them with 2,366 children without malformations whose mothers lived within a similar zone.

The risks fell the farther women lived from the sites.

"We have found increased risks of many types of congenital anomaly near the landfill sites," said the researchers. "There was a significantly overall increased risk of neural-tube defects, malformations of the cardiac septa (hole-in-the-heart), and malformations of the great arteries and veins in residents near the sites."

But it was not clear whether the increased risk of birth defects was caused by living near toxic waste or by some other factor. They recommended health monitoring for landfill sites and other pollution sources, to include registers of birth defects and assessment of exposure to chemicals.

"Our results show the need for further investigation of the potential environmental and health risks of landfill sites and for a more systematic environmental health surveillance system in Europe." the team added.

Professor Goran Pershagen, from the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Stockholm, stressed that no one knew how much exposure, if any, the women had had to chemicals from the landfill sites. "Overall the evidence is very limited, and the results clearly point to the need for further study." he said.

Friends of the Earth said there were 8,000 landfill sites in the UK of which 2,000 are active. Mike Childs, the senior waste campaigner at FoE said yesterday: "This research is extremely worrying. We havewarned for years that landfill sites are toxic timebombs. There are thousands of landfill sites and no one has a clue what toxic chemicals are dumped in many of them.

"The Government must urgently conduct detailed health studies around rubbish dumps in the UK."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Programmer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Bridgend based software de...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Printer

£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A specialist retail and brand c...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Class 2 HGV Driver - with CPC

£26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Haulage company based on the Thorpe Indu...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence