Monday, August 25, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Wood dust plants prompt CANCER fears for resident families

EXCLUSIVE: Wood dust plants prompt CANCER fears for resident families

FAMILIES living near wood recycling centres across Britain have called for Government action to stop clouds of "toxic" dust blanketing their homes and gardens.

Published: Sun, August 24, 2014

dust, illness, government action, toxic dust, cancer blanket, abestos, bristol, wood recycling centres, environment agency, citizen's science investigDust billowing in air at wood recycling centre[MATTHEW POVER]

They feel like prisoners in their homes, having to shut all windows to avoid breathing in tiny particles of silica, arsenic and asbestos, after suffering from nosebleeds, headaches, sore throats and asthma.

Research has shown "nano-toxins" found in dust from wood manufacturing and recycling, and car exhaust emissions of the smallest carbon particles, can cause cancer and dementia.

Poor health has been found among thousands of adults, children and pets living next to waste wood recycling and processing plants at Avonmouth docks near Bristol, Mossley and Horwich in Lancashire, Shoreham in West Sussex, Frodsham in Cheshire and Kirkby in Merseyside.

The companies involved have not broken the law and meet industry regulations enforced by councils and the Environment Agency [EA].

In a bid for tougher regulations, the six communities have compiled a Citizen's Science Investigation inspired by Erin Brockovich's pursuit of an energy company for contaminating the drinking water of a Californian town, which was made into a Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts.

Air monitoring analysis commissioned for the report was critical of EA tests at Mossley and Horwich, which were not carried out in the dry summer months when clouds of dust can be seen blowing over nearby homes.

They found dust gauges at Mossley were not placed in the direction of the prevailing wind and ruled the equipment used was not effective in testing the most harmful tiny particles of dust. Samples were not "chemically analysed".

dust, illness, government action, toxic dust, cancer blanket, abestos, bristol, wood recycling centres, environment agency, citizen's science investigDonna Liley carried out research on wood plant [MATTHEW POVER]

Independent testing has shown dust samples contained harmful substances like arsenic and asbestos

Independent testing, also commissioned for the report, found dust samples contained harmful substances like arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, chromium, formaldehyde, lead, gypsum , silica and silica sand in worryingly high concentrations.

The report, published today [SUN], calls for waste wood to be stored in enclosed spaces to avoid dust becoming airborne, continuous monitoring at affected sites and for residents to be given the same protection from exposure in law as employees at wood processing plants.

Wood dust has been classed as a group one carcinogen by the World Health Organisation [WHO] since 1995, yet in the UK it is only seen as a "nuisance" to homes near recycling sites.

Research carried out by Donna Liley, secretary of Mossley Environmental Action Group, found that out of 72 families with homes backing on to a Plevin wood-processing plant in Mossley, eight people have suffered from cancer and five from Alzheimer's or dementia, which is much higher than the national incidence rate.

Resident Alan Carter, 72, who lives with wife Val, 65, has had two different types of cancer in the past decade, including male breast cancer, of which there are only about 300 cases a year in the UK.

Neighbour Bernadette Dolan, 48, who lives with husband Carl, daughter Ashley and sons Sean, Connor and Aiden, has had so many nosebleeds that she now has a hole in her septum. Her sons also suffer regular nosebleeds.

The report states: "Whilst health authorities acknowledge that 'mixed pollutants' are a problem and urgent research is required, they have failed to provide any peer reviewed evidence to substantiate their claims that there is no connection between waste wood emissions and the health issues reported by communities."

Dr Jill Meara, deputy director at Public Health England's Centre for Chemicals, Radiation and Environmental Hazards, said: "The main health problems associated with wood dust are linked to long term occupational exposure in workplaces.

"Levels of exposure in a domestic environment are likely to be much lower, but because most of the research and evidence is based on the health effects of occupational exposure, it is difficult to say what the risks are to residents without the results of air monitoring.

"PHE welcomes the recent decision by the EA to undertake some continuous air quality monitoring for a period of three months at one of these sites."

An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "Wood recyclers must control dust emissions at their sites as set out in the strict terms of their permits. If they don't we take action ranging from improving controls on site to prosecuting."

A spokeswoman for Plevin, which also runs a wood recycling site in Elkesley, Nottinghamshire and is building a new £5million plant on a 50-site in Hazelhead, South Yorkshire, insisted all its sites "operate within the law".


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