Author(s): Giusti L
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Abstract This work reviews (i) the most recent information on waste arisings and waste disposal options in the world, in the European Union (EU), in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC) countries, and in some developing countries (notably China) and (ii) the potential direct and indirect impact of waste management activities on health. Though the main focus is primarily on municipal solid waste (MSW), exposure to bioaerosols from composting facilities and to pathogens from sewage treatment plants are considered. The reported effects of radioactive waste are also briefly reviewed. Hundreds of epidemiological studies reported on the incidence of a wide range of possible illnesses on employees of waste facilities and on the resident population. The main conclusion of the overall assessment of the literature is that the evidence of adverse health outcomes for the general population living near landfill sites, incinerators, composting facilities and nuclear installations is usually insufficient and inconclusive. There is convincing evidence of a high risk of gastrointestinal problems associated with pathogens originating at sewage treatment plants. In order to improve the quality and usefulness of epidemiological studies applied to populations residing in areas where waste management facilities are located or planned, preference should be given to prospective cohort studies of sufficient statistical power, with access to direct human exposure measurements, and supported by data on health effect biomarkers and susceptibility biomarkers.
This article was published in Waste Manag
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