No Evidence Linking Birth Defects to Incinerators

03 December 2018

No Evidence Linking Birth Defects to Incinerators

Municipal waste incineration report finds no link to birth defects/ infant mortality.

The research study was funded by Public Health England and carried out by researchers at the Small Area Health Statistics Unit and King’s College, London. The work is believed to be the largest of its kind to date and is based on incinerators over the period 2003-2010.


The study saw researchers assess data relating to birth and infant mortality data in surrounding areas of incinerators located throughout Great Britain.

Researchers looked at figures recorded between 2003 and 2010 on birthweight, stillbirth, neonatal, post-neonatal and infant mortality as well as other datasets within 10 km of each of the selected plants. Data relating to over 1,025,000 births and 18,694 infant deaths was included in the study. They examined birthweight, multiple births, sex ratio, prematurity and mortality outcomes and found no associations between municipal waste incinerator proximity or emissions and infant health outcomes.

In a version of the study recently published online, researchers wrote: “This large national study found no evidence for increased risk of a range of birth outcomes, including birth weight, preterm delivery and infant mortality, in relation to either MWI [municipal waste incinerator] emissions or living near an MWI operating to the current EU waste incinerator regulations in Great Britain. The study should be generalisable to other MWIs operating to similar regulations and with similar waste streams.”