Abstract of Meeting Paper

Society for Risk Analysis - Europe 1998 Annual Meeting

A Perspective on Health Risks of Air Pollution from Incinerators. A. Rabl and J. V. Spadaro, Centre d'Energétique, Ecole des Mines, 60 boul. St.-Michel, F-75272 Paris, telephone (33 1) 40 51 91 52; fax (33 1) 46 34 24 91, e-mail rabl@cenerg.ensmp.fr

This paper offers a perspective on air pollution from incinerators, by presenting results of a comprehensive analysis of health risks recently carried out for the ExternE Project and the Environment and Climate Program of the European Commission, DG12. The health risks are estimated by an impact pathway analysis, tracing the fate of a pollutant from source to all receptors that are affected. Linearity is assumed for the increase of damages with incremental exposure. The monetary valuation is based on a valuation of mortality in terms of years of life lost, rather than simply the number of premature deaths.

In view of the large uncertainties of health risk estimates, it is advisable to put the results in perspective by making a number of comparisons, in terms of emissions, concentrations, damages and damage costs. We consider the incineration of municipal solid waste (MSW) with emissions equal to the regulations proposed by the EC [1994], for typical per capita MSW production. We offer the following comparisons, to the extent that we have been able to find suitable data:

• incremental emission compared to other emissions (natural and anthropogenic, e.g. cars);

• incremental concentration (or dose) compared to background concentration (or dose);

• incremental concentration (or dose) compared to health guidelines (EC or WHO);

• health risks from different pollutants compared to each other;

• incremental years of life lost compared to other risks of everyday life;

• incremental damage cost compared to the cost of incineration itself.

Even if all MSW is incinerated (in accordance with these regulations), the impacts are insignificant by any of these comparisons. In particular the total health damage costs are relatively minor. Also, the impacts of dioxins and carcinogenic metals are small compared to those of particles, NOx and Sox.

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