Review of the Potential Health and Environmental Impacts from Municipal Waste Management Technologies which might be used in Milton Keynes

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A Review of the Potential Health and Environmental Impacts from Municipal Waste Management Technologies which might be used in Milton Keynes

The Environmental Protection Team, Environmental Health Division Milton Keynes Council July 2005

“How mortifying then to find, that one may be employed almost a lifetime in generalising the phenomena of nature, or in gathering an infinity of evidence for the forming of a theory, and that the consequence of this shall only be to give offence, and to receive reproach from those who see not things in the same light!

While man has to learn, mankind must have different opinions. It is the prerogative of man to form opinions; these indeed are often, commonly I may say, erroneous; but they are commonly corrected, and it is thus that truth in general is made to appear.”
James Hutton (1795). Theory of the Earth. Edinburgh.

"The major problem in marrying policy and the science which informs it is that the time-scales of the two never match. This is true almost by definition, since if there were sufficient science in place, then the problem of characterising the scientific essentials of an issue is solved and policy formulation is then determined by consideration of other issues such as the social, economic and political aspects of the problem. Unfortunately, life is generally not this simple, and one often finds that there is insufficient scientific information compared with what ideally would be required."

Maynard., R.L., & Howard., C.V. (2000). Particulate Matter: Properties and Effects upon Health. BIOS Scientific Publisher. Oxford.

This review was prepared by the Environmental Protection Team part of the Environmental Health Division, Milton Keynes Council:

Dr. Steven J. Moorhouse, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., Ph.D., FGS. Team Leader.
David A. Parrish, B.Tech., (Hons), Pg.Dip., MIAQM., MIES. Senior Scientific Officer.
Gillian Clarke, B.Sc. (Hons), M.Sc., MCIEH, MIOA. Senior Scientific Officer.
Nicola Adshead, B.Sc. (Hons). Scientific Officer.
Matthew P. Gilbert, B.Sc. (Hons), AMIOA. Senior Environmental Protection Officer.
Dr. Christopher J. Ward, B.Sc. (Hons), Ph.D., MRSC. Senior Environmental Protection Officer.
Neil P. Crook, B.Sc. (Hons). Environmental Protection Officer.

Dr Moorhouse wrote the review with contributions from all the other members of the team. Dr Ward undertook the proof reading.

The responsibility for the content of the review, including any remaining errors or unintentional misrepresentation, is solely that of Dr Moorhouse. The review was produced to a very short time-scale of only a few weeks and is very largely based on the work of others, as listed in the References. Dr Moorhouse apologises if their work is in any way misrepresented or inadequately acknowledged in the body of the text.


The principal author of this review, who is an environmental scientist with over 35 years post-graduate research, academic and professional experience, has attempted to be as objective and unbiased as possible in dealing with what can be highly emotive and controversial topics. Nevertheless some parts of the review necessarily represent opinion based on a professional assessment of the available evidence.
The author would like to assure readers of the report that as a father of two pre-school children living with him in Milton Keynes, he is just as anxious as any other citizen and parent to do his utmost to ensure that the best possible environmental legacy is passed on to the next generation growing up in our green and pleasant city.

The scope of this review

This review surveys the concepts used by scientists in reaching their conclusions about health and environmental impacts and summarises and assesses the available evidence concerning the potential health and environmental impacts of waste treatment techniques that might be used in Milton Keynes.
It is essentially based on three areas where questions have arisen about possible health and environmental impacts from dealing with our waste:
Part A: Introduction to Impacts, Milton Keynes & Waste

What impacts might there be on health and the environment from dealing with Municipal Solid Waste?

Part B: Concepts, Emissions and Control

How do scientists reach their conclusions about potential health and environmental impacts? Is there a universal scientific consensus about these impacts?

Part C: Potential Health and Environmental Effects and Impacts

How concerned should we citizens of Milton Keynes be about the potential health and environmental effects of dealing with the waste that we produce?

This review was produced in order to gather together the information which might be used to produce some answers to these, and similar, questions


There are two summaries available as separate documents: a 3,500 word brief summary and a 12,500 word extended summary.

Navigating around the document

The Microsoft Word version of this document contains internal hyperlinks (in blue text) and bookmarks for navigation. The pointer will change to a ‘hand’ symbol when over a hyperlink. After left-clicking and jumping to a hyperlink you can return to the source of the link by clicking the ‘Back arrow’ button (Alt+left) on the menu bar.

List of Contents

Part A: Introduction to Impacts, Milton Keynes & Waste

1. Introduction and overview of the local environment

1.1 Introduction to the most recent research

1.2 The concept of health and environmental impacts

1.2.1 What is an impact? Are they always negative?
1.2.2 Can environmental impacts be separated from health impacts?
1.2.3 Whose health is most at risk? Residents or workers in waste?
1.2.4 What potential health effects are of particular concern?
1.2.5 What potential environmental effects have raised concerns?

1.3 Overview of the Environment of Milton Keynes

1.3.1 Air quality
1.3.2 Water quality
1.3.3 Land quality
1.3.4 Noise & vibration
1.3.5 Odour and dust in Milton Keynes
1.3.6 Obtaining information of the local environment

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