The following questions on air pollution have been kindly converted into layman's language by the forensic toxicologist Dr Keith Williams, BSc (Hons) who is a member of our campaign group opposing the installation of an incinerator at Charlton Lane.
What are PM’s?
PM’s (particulate matter) are tiny particles that float in the air and are breathed in all the time. They can be produced by natural sources but the amount of particles in the atmosphere is greatly increased thorough the burning of fossil fuels, incineration of waste and other industrial processes.
Are all PM’s the same?
They can be divided in to three broad categories, based on size. The largest of these PM10 are small enough to get into our lungs. PM 2.5 can penetrate into deep lung tissue and embed in the lung walls. PM 0.1 have the ability to cross the lungs and get inside tissues inside your body. Each type of particle will cause damage to your body in different ways,potentially causing health issues. It has been scientifically demonstrated that the greater the number of PM’s you breathe in the greater the risk to your health.
Where do they come from?
In the Spelthorne, there are currently two major sources; aircraft and traffic. SITA will increase the amount of PM’s is the air we breathe by building a gasifier, at Charlton Lane Recycling Centre. They claim that any output from the incinerator will be filtered and that any increase in PM emissions will be negligible. Scientific fact however tends to differ in its opinion. There is currently no technology available that will remove all these particles from the chimney of the incinerator. In addition, any filtration system can fail and when, and if, it does, this failure will expose the general public to large quantities of these dangerous materials, as happened in Scotland.
What will the PM’s do to me?
The more PM’s in the air we breathe, the greater the number of health issues and unnecessary early deaths will occur. Scientific studies have demonstrated beyond all doubt that PM’s will cause asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, birth defects, and premature death. COMEAP, an independent advisory body to the government, estimate that on average we each lose 6 months of life due inhalation of PM’s. Surrey County Council’s air quality expert has admitted in a public meeting that quality of life for all will be improved by any reduction in PMs in the air we breath.
Why therefore are SITA UK proposing to increase these dangerous particles, poisoning the air we breathe?
Money and profit.
Who is particularly at risk?
Unborn children, young children, the elderly, anyone with a respiratory disease and the weakest of our population. There are 4000 children within 2 miles of the proposed incinerator that will be exposed on a daily basis to this unnecessary increase in pollution.Their future health is being put at risk. Furthermore, depending on the weather conditions, a local high pressure zone could significantly elevate local exposure over a short period of time and therefore increase all of our acute risks.
Is the UK government concerned about PM’s and their effect on health?
Yes. They have recently launched a two year study into the dangers from incinerators prompted by the results of a Japanese study that clearly indicated an increased rate of birth defects in areas surrounding incinerators.
What can I do about this?
Visit www.satep.co.uk for further information, and details about how to object to this ill-judged proposal. Write or Email your local County Councillor and your Borough councillor to make your objections known by 24th February (See article of 1st February). Contact your local MP to make your views known.