Managing the health impacts of waste incineration
Incineration has emerged over the last century as a viable strategy for (a) reducing the volume of municipal waste, (b) for reducing substantially the volume of chemical and biological hazardous wastes, (c) for destroying medically contaminated hospital waste, and (d) for producing energy. Facing an exponential rise in garbage production, policy-makers in the US selected waste incineration in the 1970s as a waste-management option. By that time European nations had already made a strong commitment to waste incineration. Waste incineration has been employed in some form for centuries. However, in the last several decades, the quantity of material combusted, public concerns about the health and ecological impacts of combustion facilities, the level of environmental control, and the cost of control have all increased. Whether waste incineration poses a health risk has been the subject of continuous scientific debate.