Health risk assessment for planned waste incinerators: getting the right science and the science right

Risk Anal. 2002 Dec;22(6):1095-105. doi: 10.1111/1539-6924.00275.


Health risk assessment is widely advocated in the United Kingdom as the most comprehensive means of assessing the health risks posed by the emissions of a planned waste incinerator. Its main advantage over other methods of assessment, such as air quality impact assessment, is its ability to address explicitly the direct (inhalation) and indirect (ingestion and dermal contact) health risks posed by different chemicals, including those that are not thought to have a threshold below which no adverse effect will take place. This article examines the level and quality of the emissions assessments included in 61 waste incinerator environmental statements (ESs); in particular, it focuses on the quality of the exposure assessment and risk characterization stages of the health risk assessment process. The article concludes that the ES has not always provided interested stakeholders with the best available information upon which to determine the tolerability of the health risks posed by waste incinerator emissions Some recommendations are made as to how this problem might be addressed in future environmental impact assessment (EIA) processes.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Environment
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Incineration* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • United Kingdom


  • Air Pollutants